Phage Decay

If one is willing to accept that phage are alive (e.g., 27), then phage decay, in its narrowest sense, is equivalent to virion death (or "inactivation" or "loss of titer''; 37). Phage decay (68, 69, 78) likely limits the impact of phage on bacteria (70) and also imposes important constraints on virulent phage: it implies that virion populations cannot survive indefinitely in the absence of sufficient densities of susceptible bacteria (e.g., 30, 76). Similarly, the evolution of lysogeny (see chapter 7) must be dependent at least in part on the relative importance of virion decay versus phage and prophage replication rates as, for example, Stewart and Levin (67) suggest with their ''hard times'' hypothesis (see also 39). In general, decay impacts directly on phage per-infection productivity by reducing the duration of phage-progeny survival.

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