One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A virus which parasitizes a bacterium by infecting it and reproducing inside it. Bacteriophages are much used in genetic research.
- ‘Suitable vectors are the DNAs of bacterial viruses or bacteriophages which naturally infect bacteria and replicate within them.’
- ‘However, another promising approach is to use bacterial viruses knows as bacteriophages to produce vaccines very rapidly and cheaply.’
- ‘For a subset of these viruses, including many tailed bacteriophages and the herpes viruses, the concatemers are cut at specific sites to generate unit-length virion chromosomes.’
- ‘Those viruses, called bacteriophages, specifically infect bacteria, capture some of their genes, and transfer the genes from one microbe to the next.’
- ‘The genome contains four sections inserted by bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria and splice their genes into the bacterial DNA.’
1920s: from bacterium + Greek phagein ‘eat’.
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