Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) are a distinctive feature of the genomes of most Bacteria and Archaea and are thought to be involved in resistance to bacteriophages. We found that, after viral challenge, bacteria integrated new spacers derived from phage genomic sequences. Removal or addition of particular spacers modified the phage-resistance phenotype of the cell. Thus, CRISPR, together with associated cas genes, provided resistance against phages, and resistance specificity is determined by spacer-phage sequence similarity.
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