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Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 1999 Jul-Nov;76(1-4):89-113.

Bacteriophage defence systems in lactic acid bacteria.

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Department of Microbiology, University College, Cork, Ireland.


The study of the interactions between lactic acid bacteria and their bacteriophages has been a vibrant and rewarding research activity for a considerable number of years. In the more recent past, the application of molecular genetics for the analysis of phage-host relationships has contributed enormously to the unravelling of specific events which dictate insensitivity to bacteriophage infection and has revealed that while they are complex and intricate in nature, they are also extremely effective. In addition, the strategy has laid solid foundations for the construction of phage resistant strains for use in commercial applications and has provided a sound basis for continued investigations into existing, naturally-derived and novel, genetically-engineered defence systems. Of course, it has also become clear that phage particles are highly dynamic in their response to those defence systems which they do encounter and that they can readily adapt to them as a consequence of their genetic flexibility and plasticity. This paper reviews the exciting developments that have been described in the literature regarding the study of phage-host interactions in lactic acid bacteria and the innovative approaches that can be taken to exploit this basic information for curtailing phage infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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