Figure 1 : Phages use a small peptide to communicate with each other.

From: Phages make a group decision

Figure 1

a, Erez et al.1 investigated Bacillus subtilis bacterial cells infected by a phage virus called phi3T. They identified a phage protein, AimP, that undergoes enzyme-mediated cleavage to form a peptide fragment that is exported from the bacterial cell. This fragment, termed arbitrium, enables intercellular viral communication, a phenomenon that had not been observed previously. b, Arbitrium is taken up by neighbouring bacterial cells through the bacterial OPP transporter protein. If low levels of arbitrium are present in a bacterial cell, phage infection has a higher probability of following the lytic developmental pathway that eventually destroys the host cell and releases further virus particles into the environment. c, High levels of arbitrium in a bacterial cell increase the probability that phage infection will result in the lysogenic developmental pathway, which results in the phage genome being integrated into the host-cell genome and in host-cell survival.