Water resources are really becoming limited due to the contamination problems caused by life threatening bacterial pathogens. Traditional methods that are employed for the decontamination of water resources leave behind many health risks. Besides, many developing countries including India do not employ proper treatment to get safe water. Many times, untreated waste water is directly discharged into natural water systems. Thus, almost all water resources have contaminated either by pathogenic bacteria or by disinfection process byproducts. Therefore, there should be an efficient alternative strategy to meet with such problems. The interest in phage research has increased over past few years. Phages have been employed in almost every field as a biocontrol agent to prevent and treat bacterial infections.
Phage as disinfectant is now a current field for research. Studies on potential of phages as disinfectant in various water systems have been carried out. Phages have been applied successfully as disinfectants in pond water, swimming pools, industrial water systems, aquaculture system and in the treatment of waste water. Phages could be applied as disinfectant during disinfection step, along with other physico-chemical processes (aeration, coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation and filtration). As bacteriophages are host specific, complete understanding of nuisance bacterial community dynamics is essential. Polyvalent or monovalent phage preparation could be employed depending upon nuisance bacterial community dynamics. Application of phages would be rather easy in stagnant water systems, viz., pond, lake, well, groundwater, swimming pool, aquaculture system than in running water like river. In running water systems, applied phage titers may get diluted, therefore may not disinfect the water efficiently.
There are some limitations on the use of phages as disinfectant in water systems. Successful strategies should be developed to encounter the problem of host cell resistance and penetration of phages through flocs or suspended matter. Also, Strategies against risk of pathogen emergence through transduction should be developed to overcome the problem of phage resistance in bacteria. Thus for successful phage therapy in water systems, substantial research regarding waste water micro-bial ecology, phage-host interactions and low cost phage preparation technology is needed. Our understanding of microbial ecology of water systems and interactions of physicochemical factors with phages would prove to be essential for getting insights into biocontrol of pathogens in various water systems.
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