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The Human Gut Phage Community and Its Implications for Health and Disease

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Tessa E. F.  Quax, Matthias G.  Fischer and Laurent Debarbieux
Viruses 2017, 9(6), 141;
Received: 20 April 2017 / Revised: 23 May 2017 / Accepted: 2 June 2017 / Published: 8 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viruses of Microbes)
PDF [2138 KB, uploaded 14 June 2017]


In this review, we assess our current understanding of the role of bacteriophages infecting the human gut bacterial community in health and disease. In general, bacteriophages contribute to the structure of their microbial communities by driving host and viral diversification, bacterial evolution, and by expanding the functional diversity of ecosystems. Gut bacteriophages are an ensemble of unique and shared phages in individuals, which encompass temperate phages found predominately as prophage in gut bacteria (prophage reservoir) and lytic phages. In healthy individuals, only a small fraction of the prophage reservoir is activated and found as extracellular phages. Phage community dysbiosis is characterized by a shift in the activated prophage community or an increase of lytic phages, and has been correlated with disease, suggesting that a proper balance between lysis and lysogeny is needed to maintain health. Consequently, the concept of microbial dysbiosis might be extended to the phage component of the microbiome as well. Understanding the dynamics and mechanisms to restore balance after dysbiosis is an active area of research. The use of phage transplants to re-establish health suggests that phages can be used as disease treatment. Such advances represent milestones in our understanding of gut phages in human health and should fuel research on their role in health and disease. View Full-Text
Keywords: gut microbiome bacteriophages; gut microbiome phages; gut prophage reservoir; healthy gut phages gut microbiome bacteriophages; gut microbiome phages; gut prophage reservoir; healthy gut phages

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Manrique, P.; Dills, M.; Young, M.J. The Human Gut Phage Community and Its Implications for Health and Disease. Viruses 2017, 9, 141.

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