Bacteriophages (phages) are accomplished, bacteria-specific, viral predators with far-reaching impact: from the food and biotechnology industries to global nutrient cycling to human health and disease. Wherever bacteria thrive, it seems, so do predatory phages. In order to survive the constant onslaught of phage, bacteria have evolved mechanistically diverse defense strategies that act at every stage of the phage replication cycle. Phages rapidly co-evolve to overcome these barriers, resulting in a constant, and often surprising, molecular arms race. This short review highlights the spectrum of “innate” strategies used by bacteria to evade phage predation, with particular attention paid to more recent findings in the field (other than the CRISPR-Cas adaptive immune system).
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