Coevolution between bacterial CRISPR-Cas systems and their bacteriophages

Bridget N.J. Watson*, Jurre A. Steens, Raymond H.J. Staals, Edze R. Westra, Stineke van Houte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


CRISPR-Cas systems provide bacteria and archaea with adaptive, heritable immunity against their viruses (bacteriophages and phages) and other parasitic genetic elements. CRISPR-Cas systems are highly diverse, and we are only beginning to understand their relative importance in phage defense. In this review, we will discuss when and why CRISPR-Cas immunity against phages evolves, and how this, in turn, selects for the evolution of immune evasion by phages. Finally, we will discuss our current understanding of if, and when, we observe coevolution between CRISPR-Cas systems and phages, and how this may be influenced by the mechanism of CRISPR-Cas immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-725
Number of pages11
JournalCell Host and Microbe
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2021


  • bacteriophages
  • coevolution
  • CRISPR-Cas
  • ecology
  • evolution

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Coevolution between bacterial CRISPR-Cas systems and their bacteriophages'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this