Abortive infection: A killer bacteriophage resistance strategy of last resort

Chidiebere Akusobi, Feng Rao, Francesca L. Short, George P.C. Salmond

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Otherpeer-review


Bacteriophages are the most abundant biological entities on earth and outnumber their bacterial hosts by a factor of 10. As a result, bacteria have evolved numerous defense systems to resist viral infection. These systems operate at all stages of the phage life cycle and include cell surface modification, restriction-modification and CRISPRmediated resistance. Another notable defense strategy is phage abortive infection (Abi), where a bacterial host prevents the production of viable phage progeny and in the process protects the bacterial population as a whole, but at the expense of its life. For this reason, phage Abi can be viewed as "altruistic suicide". Recently, a link has been demonstrated between abortive infection activity and the near-ubiquitous prokaryotic toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems. Here, we review abortive infection and the emerging role for TA systems in mediating this powerful anti-viral activity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBacteriophages
Subtitle of host publicationBiology, Applications and Role in Health and Disease
EditorsClark Denton, Richard J. Crosby
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9781626185135
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameBacteriology Research Developments
PublisherNova Biomedical

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