Bacteriocins and bacteriophage (phage) are biological tools which exhibit targeted microbial killing, a phenomenon which until recently was seen as a major drawback for their use as antimicrobial agents. However, in an age when the deleterious consequences of broad-spectrum antibiotics on human health have become apparent, there is an urgent need to develop narrow-spectrum substitutes. Indeed, disruption of the microbial communities which exist on and in our bodies can generate immediate and long-term negative effects and this is particularly borne out in the gut microbiota community whose disruption has been linked to a number of disorders reaching as far as the brain. Moreover, the antibiotic resistance crisis has resulted in our inability to treat many bacterial infections and has triggered the search for damage-limiting alternatives. As bacteriocins and phage are natural entities they are relatively easy to isolate and characterise and are also ideal candidates for improving food safety and quality, forfeiting the need for largely unpopular chemical preservatives. This review highlights the efficacy of both antimicrobial agents in terms of gut health and food safety and explores the body of scientific evidence supporting their effectiveness in both environments.
University College Cork ->