Researchers from the University of Utah and University College London have discovered that the plant pathogen Pseudomonas viridiflava can repurpose bacteriophage tailocins to kill competing bacteria.

Tailocins are derived from phage elements and resemble phage tails.

The study showed that these pathogens can adapt phage structures to target other bacteria, highlighting an evolutionary arms race. 

Using historical herbarium specimens, the research demonstrated the long-term evolutionary battle between plant pathogens and their bacterial competitors. 

These findings suggest that tailocins could be developed as a new class of targeted antimicrobial treatments, offering a specific approach compared to broad-spectrum antibiotics.