Lak, a megaphage prevalent in human and non-human animal microbiomes

Joanne Santini (primary)
Structural & Molecular Biology
Elena Orlova (secondary)
Biological Sciences


Bacteriophages in the gut have a direct impact on microbial composition and are drivers of horizontal gene transfer, all of which has major implications for animal and human health. We have identified giant phages in humans and animals, including one megaphage (Lak) of between 540-650 kb, prevalent in some humans and non-human animals such as, baboons, pigs, horses and other high fiber-consuming animals. Lak infects Prevotella species, important commensals of the gut. This project focusses on understanding some of the fascinating features of Lak including host-specific adaptations and the infection cycle using different approaches.


Devoto et al. 2019. Nature Microbiol. 4:693-700.

Al-Shayeb et al. 2020. Nature 578: 425-431.

Crisci et al. 2021. Preprint

Plants, microbes, food and sustainability
Area of Biology
Cell BiologyMicrobiologyStructural Biology
Techniques & Approaches
BiochemistryBioinformaticsGeneticsMolecular Biology