Archives of Virology

, Volume 152, Issue 2, pp 227–243

5500 Phages examined in the electron microscope

  • H.-W. Ackermann
Brief Review

DOI: 10.1007/s00705-006-0849-1

Cite this article as:
Ackermann, HW. Arch Virol (2007) 152: 227. doi:10.1007/s00705-006-0849-1


“Phages” include viruses of eubacteria and archaea. At least 5568 phages have been examined in the electron microscope since the introduction of negative staining in 1959. Most virions (96%) are tailed. Only 208 phages (3.7%) are polyhedral, filamentous, or pleomorphic. Phages belong to one order, 17 families, and three “floating” groups. Phages are found in 11 eubacterial and archaeal phyla and infect 154 host genera, mostly of the phyla Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria. Of the tailed phages, 61% have long, noncontractile tails and belong to the family Siphoviridae. Convergent evolution is visible in the morphology of certain phage groups.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • H.-W. Ackermann
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Félix d’Hérelle Reference Center for Bacterial VirusesLaval UniversityQuébecCanada