Phages, or viruses that kill bacteria, are routinely found in the bladder


A recent study published in the Journal of Bacteriology reported that bacterial viruses (bacteriophages), which infect and replicate inside bacteria, are found in the bladder. According to the authors, the presence of the phages is helpful in maintaining a healthy urinary tract.

  • To identify how bacteriophages contribute to the urinary microbiota, researchers looked at 181 bacterial genomes that were taken from the female bladder.
  • Researchers found out that these had 457 phage sequences inside the genomes. However, most of these were novel in nature and can no longer replicate to infect more bacteria.
  • Of the phage sequences, they discovered that 86 percent of the genomes contained at least one sequence that was able to replicate itself.
  • Bacteriophages that share similar sequences with other microbiota in the bladder also indicated the presence of a "core community" of phages in the organ.
  • There were also some differences identified between the phage populations of women with a healthy bladder and those that had symptoms of urinary tract infection.
  • The study is the first to explore the phage population within the urinary microbiota. As the findings indicated the many of the phage sequences are not recognized in their current database, researchers posited that this could indicate additional sequences that contribute to urinary health.

Researchers plan to further explore phage populations in the bladder as they could be used as an alternative treatment to antibiotic-resistant pathogenic bacteria.

Journal Reference:

Miller-Ensminger T, Garretto A, Brenner J, Thomas-White K, Zambom A, Wolfe AJ, Putonti C. BACTERIOPHAGES OF THE URINARY MICROBIOME. Journal of Bacteriology. 2018. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JB.00738-17

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