Temperate and lysogenic infection: Are they the same?

lysogenic cycle of bacteriophages
Lysogenic cycle

Lysogenic infection

An infection that results in prophage genome replication but does not explicitly involve virion production except after subsequent prophage induction. Lytic infections, on the other hand, involve both phage replication and virion production. Phage-genome replication and virion production do not occur in the context of pseudo-lysogenic infections. Lysogenic infections should not be confused with "temperate-phage infections," because temperate phages can infect using both strategies (lytic and lysogenic). Since most phages can infect bacterial cells and cause lysis despite having a lysogenic cycle, temperate phages are more common. 

Can temperate phages cause cell lysis?

Under certain conditions, temperate phages can be induced to enter a lytic cycle. Most studies indicate that when the host cell is stressed, the lytic cycle is activated.

What is a typical characteristic of a temperate phage plaque?

When it infects a rapidly growing population of bacterial cells, it produces a plaque with something like a "bulls-eye" morphological feature, with a turbid centre surrounded by a clearing ring (See the image below).

Bull's eye plaque (cloudy plaque) produced by a temperate bacteriophage infenction and a clear plaque produced by a lytic bacteriophage infenction
Bull's eye plaque (cloudy plaque) and a clear plaque @allthingsmicrobial

Which phage lytic or temperate type is a better candidate for phage therapy?

For several reasons, lytic phages are better suited for phage therapy than temperate phages. Because they do not integrate their DNA with the bacterial genome, their lytic cycle is shorter, resulting in maximum results in a short period. Furthermore, if the phage is purely lytic, the transfer of undesirable genes from one bacteria to another (horizontal gene transfer) is unlikely. Temperate phages can be applied to other applications in the biotechnology industry. However, more research is needed to identify any benefits that can be used in phage therapy.

What are the similarities between the lytic and lysogenic cycles?

  • Both are mechanisms of viral reproduction.
  • They take place within the host cell.
  • Both lytic and lysogenic can moderate the DNA replication and the protein synthesis of the host cell.

Temperate bacteriophages have a lysogenic life cycle, which requires the viral genome to be incorporated into the bacterial chromosome. This is how bacteriophage DNA is transferred without the infected cell being killed.

About the author

Hello there!
I'm Raphael Hans Lwesya, My true passion lies in the world of phage research and science communication. As a diligent phage researcher and an enthusiastic science communicator, I've founded "www.thephage.xyz," a platform dedicated to unraveling the fascinating universe of bacteriophages – viruses that specifically target microbes. My ultimate mission is to bridge the communication gap between the general public and the often intricate world of scientific concepts. I take pride in simplifying complex ideas, breaking them down into easily understandable pieces, and making cutting-edge phage-related research accessible to a wide audience. Thank you for visiting The Phage blog. If you have got any question or suggestion please drop it as a comment or via [email protected]

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