Paper Abstracts

Bacteriophages as beneficial regulators

J.W. Francis, M. Ingle, T.C. Wood

Discipline: Biology

Abstract: Much of the research on viruses has concentrated on their disease causing ability. The creation model biomatrix theory predicts that viruses play a beneficial role in cells and organisms. In this report we present a new theory which proposes that mammalian phages (bacteriophages), the most abundant organism associated with mammals, guard and regulate growth of the mammalian microbiome. We base this theory on nearly a century of published evidence that demonstrates that phage can insert into the bacterial genome and cover the surface of bacteria. We propose that this "cloaking" of the bacterial cell surface is an elegant mechanism whereby the normal flora bacteria are protected from immune detection and pathogenic bacteria can be directly lysed by the same phage. Additionally, both phage genome integration and cloaking can be used to prevent normal flora bacteria from conversion to a pathogenic state. Further support for the phage cloaking aspect of our theory has been demonstrated in recent studies which show that phage proteins bind specifically to microbial-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs), which are known to be the major ligands that activate the mammalian immune system. Although these phenomena have been documented separately over decades, we postulate for the first time that these functions work together to promote the integrity of the mammalian microbiome.