Extended overuse and misuse of antibiotics and other antibacterial agents has resulted in an antimicrobial resistance crisis. Bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacteria, have emerged as a legitimate alternative antibacterial agent with a wide scope of applications which continue to be discovered and refined. However, the potential of some bacteriophages to aid in the acquisition, maintenance, and dissemination of negatively associated bacterial genes, including resistance and virulence genes, through transduction is of concern and requires deeper understanding in order to be properly addressed. In particular, their ability to interact with mobile genetic elements such as plasmids, genomic islands, and integrative conjugative elements (ICEs) enables bacteriophages to contribute greatly to bacterial evolution. Nonetheless, bacteriophages have the potential to be used as therapeutic and biocontrol agents within medical, agricultural, and food processing settings, against bacteria in both planktonic and biofilm environments. Additionally, bacteriophages have been deployed in developing rapid, sensitive, and specific biosensors for various bacterial targets. Intriguingly, their bioengineering capabilities show great promise in improving their adaptability and effectiveness as biocontrol and detection tools. This review aims to provide a balanced perspective on bacteriophages by outlining advantages, challenges, and future steps needed in order to boost their therapeutic and biocontrol potential, while also providing insight on their potential role in contributing to bacterial evolution and survival.
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