Dodge Pond, which sits on the outskirts of East Lyme, Conn., is an ordinary New England lake. It’s home to fish like bluegill and alewife, along with smaller organisms like water fleas, algae, and bacteria. There are viruses in Dodge Pond, too, most of which infect its bacteria. And one of Dodge Pond’s viruses, known as OMKO1, has now earned it a place in medical history.
Bacteriophage – or ‘phage’ for short – is a virus that infects bacteria. These naturally occurring infective agents contaminate bacterium and replicate once within. They are everywhere – including all over our bodies where they outnumber bacteria 10 to one – and are one of the most common entities in the biosphere.