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The Application of Bacteriophage Diagnostics for Bacterial Pathogens in the Agricultural Supply Chain: From Farm-to-Fork

Jones, Helen J.; Shield, Christopher G.; Swift, Benjamin M.C.


Helen J. Jones

Christopher G. Shield

Benjamin M.C. Swift


Bacteriophages (phages) have great potential not only as therapeutics but as diagnostics. Indeed, they have been developed and used to diagnose and detect bacterial infections, primarily in human clinical settings. The ability to rapidly detect and control bacterial pathogens in agriculture is of primary importance to maintain food security, improve animal health, and prevent the passage of zoonotic pathogens into the human population. Culture-based detection methods are often labor-intensive, and require further confirmatory tests, increasing costs and processing times needed for diagnostics. Molecular detection methods such as polymerase chain reaction are commonly used to determine the safety of food, however, a major drawback is their inability to differentiate between viable and nonviable bacterial pathogens in food. Phage diagnostics have been proven to be rapid, capable of identifying viable pathogens and do not require cultivation to detect bacteria. Phage detection takes advantage of the specificity of interaction between phage and their hosts. Furthermore, phage detection is cost effective, which is vitally important in agricultural supply chains where there is a drive to keep costs down to ensure that the cost of food does not increase. The full potential of phage detection/diagnostics is not wholly realized or commercialized. This review explores the current use and potential future scope of phage diagnostics and their application to various bacterial pathogens across agriculture and food supply chains.


Jones, H. J., Shield, C. G., & Swift, B. M. (2020). The Application of Bacteriophage Diagnostics for Bacterial Pathogens in the Agricultural Supply Chain: From Farm-to-Fork. PHAGE Therapy, Applications, and Research, 1(4), 176-188.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Nov 30, 2020
Online Publication Date Dec 16, 2020
Publication Date Dec 15, 2020
Deposit Date Jan 14, 2021
Publicly Available Date Dec 16, 2021
Journal PHAGE
Print ISSN 2641-6530
Electronic ISSN 2641-6549
Publisher Mary Ann Liebert
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Issue 4
Pages 176-188
Keywords Bacteriophage Diagnostics Agriculture
Public URL
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