Bacteriophage / Bacteriovirus

Dear all,

I'm raising a discussion about a usage of "bacteriovirus "to describe viruses that infect bacteria.

As bacteriophage could also refer to amoeba (that eat bacteria), I like to use bacterioviruses as did P. Forterre in his book chapter (Encyclopedia of Microbiology 2009, evolution and systematics, 370) or found in papers (e.g. Abedon, S.T.; Murray, K.L. Archaeal viruses, not archaeal phages: An archaeological dig. Archaea 2013, 2013, 251245).

What is ICTV opinion about this.

Is this acceptable or not ?

Best regards


  • Dear David,

    I ran your question by the membership of the Bacterial and Archaeal Viruses Subcommittee of ICTV and we would not want to see the term "bacteriovirus" in general use. We would prefer to keep the term "bacteriophage" because of its historical significance, realizing that "archaeophage" never caught on. We have no problem with people talking about "bacterial and/or archaeal viruses."

    With respect to amoeba - these entities engulf bacteria, while Vampirococcus/Vampirovibrio/Micavibrio are all ectoparasites, and Bdellovibrio developes in the periplasm of infected bacteria. As far as we know there are no true endoparasites of prokaryotes other than viruses.

    We don't think the word "bacteriophage" is ambiguous to anyone; therefore there is no need for the neologism bacteriovirus. I hope that this answers your question.

    All the best

    Andrew Kropinski