Review Article
Wonder World of Phages: Potential Biocontrol Agents Safeguarding Biosphere and Health of Animals and Humans- Current Scenario and Perspectives

Ruchi Tiwari, Sandip Chakraborty, Kuldeep Dhama, Mohd. Yaqoob Wani, Amit Kumar and Sanjay Kapoor

Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, 2014, 17(3), 316-328.

Abstract

Darwin’s theory of natural selection and concept of survival of fittest of Wallace is a universal truth which derives the force of life among all live entities on this biosphere. Issues regarding food safety along with increased drug resistance and emerging zoonotic infections have proved that multidisciplinary efforts are in demand for human and animal welfare. This has led to development of various novel therapies the list of which remains incomplete without mentioning about phages. Homologous and non-homologous recombination along with point mutation and addition of new genes play role in their evolution. The rapid emergence of the antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria have created keen interest in finding necessary alternatives to check microbial infections and there comes the importance of phages. Phages kill the bacteria either by lysis or by releasing holins. Bacteriophages; the viruses that live on bacteria are nowadays considered as the best biocontrol agents. They are used as replacers of antibiotics; food industry promoter; guard of aquatic life as well as of plants; pre-slaughter treatment agents; Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) food additives; Typing agent of bacteria; active tool of super bug therapy; in post harvest crops and food and during post infection and also to combat intracellular pathogens viz. Mycobacteria and Mycoplasma. Cyanophages/phycophages are particularly useful in controlling blooms produced by various genera of algae and cyanobacteria. By performing centrifugation studies and based on electron microscopy certain virus like particles containing ds RNA have been confirmed as mycophages. They are well proven as threat to pathogenic fungi (both fungal hyphae and yeast). Those that infect yeasts are called zymophages. Virophages have exquisite specificity for their viral host, hence can extensively be used for genetic studies and can also act as evolutionary link. After the discovery of very first virophage till now, a total of 3 virophages have been discovered including the Sputnik virophages that are used to study genetic recombination. Virophages also find their application in antiviral therapy; as engineer of ecological system etc. In brief, present review deals with various dimensions of these beneficial viruses that are being used and can be successfully used in future for safeguarding biosphere including animal and human health.

ASCI-ID: 1-6231

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