Officers of Division M
meetings & events
Information about the ASM General Meeting, and other meetings of interest.
Instructions on assembling icosahedra, links to web sites about teaching,
books, and more.
Phage facts & portraits
Information about and micrographs, diagrams, or other
images of specific phages.
Links to other sites on the
World Wide Web that are primarily about bacteriophages or generally about
The practical phage
Books about phage
Phage know the secrets of life
This web site was created by Division M, which is responsible for its
This web site is supported by ASM and the Membership Board.
Please send comments or corrections to
Susan Godfrey firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Hendrix email@example.com.
Copyright © 1998 American Society for
Microbiology, all rights reserved.
A mob of bacteriophage
attacking E. coli
The oval object that stretches diagonally across the micrograph top-to-bottom is a single bacterium.
The much smaller
and far more numerous round guys, practically paving the surface of the bacterium,
are the bacteriophage heads.
Tails are mostly invisible because
the staining is too dense near the bacterium to reveal such slender things. At the edges of the bacterium,
however, you can see that the heads are positioned about a tail-length away from the bacterial
surface. The tail tip is the part that actually adsorbs to the bacterial receptor at the surface.
A phage with visible tail appears at the right of
the bacterium, a little distance away where the stain is lighter, towards the bottom of the image.
A bacterium might find itself similarly beleaguered in the middle of a growing bacteriophage plaque.
However in Nature the proportion of phage to bacteria is probably most often much lower,
and in laboratory experiments one usually attempts to infect bacteria with only a few phage,
since the kind of attack pictured would be likely to kill the bacterium before it can produce
new phage or generate your experimental data.
The electron micrograph shown at left is by
(University of Pittsburgh)
The phage facts pages of this site give more information about
, and a close-up of the bacteriophage