Definition: A virus with specific affinity for bacteria. Bacteriophages have been found in association with nearly all groups of bacteria, including the Cyanobacteria; like other viruses they contain either (but never both) RNA or DNA and vary in structure from the seemingly simple filamentous bacterial virus to relatively complex forms with contractile “tails”; their relationships to the host bacteria are highly specific and, as in the case of temperate bacteriophage, may be genetically intimate. Bacteriophages are named after the bacterial species, group, or strain for which they are specific, corynebacteriophage, coliphage; a number of families are recognized and have been assigned provisional names: Corticoviridae, Cystoviridae, Fuselloviridae, Inoviridae, Leviviridae, Lipothrixviridae, Microviridae, Myoviridae, Plasmaviridae, Podoviridae, Styloviridae, and Tectiviridae.
[bacterio- + G. phagō, to eat]
See Also: coliphage