Date: 21 May 2009

Bacteriophage-Based Pathogen Detection

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Abstract

Considered the most abundant organism on Earth, at a population approaching 1031, bacteriophage, or phage for short, mediate interactions with myriad bacterial hosts that has for decades been exploited in phage typing schemes for signature identification of clinical, food-borne, and water-borne pathogens. With over 5,000 phage being morphologically characterized and grouped as to susceptible host, there exists an enormous cache of bacterial-specific sensors that has more recently been incorporated into novel bio-recognition assays with heightened sensitivity, specificity, and speed. These assays take many forms, ranging from straightforward visualization of labeled phage as they attach to their specific bacterial hosts to reporter phage that genetically deposit trackable signals within their bacterial hosts to the detection of progeny phage or other uniquely identifiable elements released from infected host cells. A comprehensive review of these and other phage-based detection assays, as directed towards the detection and monitoring of bacterial pathogens, will be provided in this chapter.