Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a fatal genetic disorder hallmarked by chronic and persistent microbial infections of the lungs and airways. Much attention has been paid to describing microbial communities and microbial pathogenesis in CF, however, viral communities have been largely ignored. We recently published a metagenomic study characterizing viral communities in the sputum of CF and Non-CF individuals for the first time. There was a striking difference in metabolic functions encoded by phage in CF versus Non-CF individuals. Regardless of which viral taxa were present, CF-associated phage shared a common core metabolism that reflected the disease state and aberrant airway physiology. Here, this finding is discussed further and its implications for the role of phage and the nature of phage-microbe interactions in the CF airway are explored.
Addendum to: Willner D, Furlan M, Haynes M, Schmieder R, Angly F, Silva J, et al. Metagenomic analysis of respiratory tract viral communities in cystic fibrosis and non-cystic fibrosis individuals. PLoS ONE 2009; 4:7370; PMID: 19816605; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007370.