Bacteriophage life cycle. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. Bacteriophages may have a lytic cycle or a lysogenic cycle, and a few viruses are capable of carrying out both. When infection of a cell by a bacteriophage results in the production of new virions, the infection is said to be productive.
With lytic phages, bacterial cells are broken open (lysed) and destroyed after immediate replication of the virion. As soon as the cell is destroyed, the phage progeny can find new hosts to infect. An example of a lytic bacteriophage is T4, which infects E. coli found in the human intestinal tract. Lytic phages are more suitable for phage therapy.
Some lytic phages undergo a phenomenon known as lysis inhibition, where completed phage progeny will not immediately lyse out of the cell if extracellular phage concentrations are high.
In contrast, the lysogenic cycle does not result in immediate lysing of the host cell. Those phages able to undergo lysogeny are known as temperate phages. Their viral genome will integrate with host DNA and replicate along with it fairly harmlessly, or may even become established as a plasmid. The virus remains dormant until host conditions deteriorate, perhaps due to depletion of nutrients; then, the endogenous phages (known as prophages) become active. At this point they initiate the reproductive cycle, resulting in lysis of the host cell. As the lysogenic cycle allows the host cell to continue to survive and reproduce, the virus is reproduced in all of the cell’s offspring. An example of a bacteriophage known to follow the lysogenic cycle and the lytic cycle is the phage lambda of E. coli.
Tags: Bacteriophage life cycle, lytic, lysogenic, virus, prophages, genetics