Over the past two decades the potential for the exchange of bacterial genes in natural environments through transduction (bacteriophage-mediated gene transfer) has been well established. Studies carried out by various laboratories throughout the world have demonstrated that both chromosomal and plasmid DNA can be successfully transduced in natural environments ranging from sewer plants to rivers and lakes. Transduction has been shown to take place in the gills of oysters and the kidneys of mice. Model studies have demonstrated the ability of transduction to maintain genetic material in bacterial gene pools that would otherwise be lost because of negative fitness. Thus, transduction may affect the course of bacterial evolution. Identification of natural transduction has led to the investigation of the dynamics of bacteriophage host interactions in natural aquatic environments and to the exploration of various environmental factors that affect virus-host interactions. Two important environmental factors which affect virus-host interactions are the metabolic state of the host and the exposure of the host to DNA-damaging stresses such as solar UV light. Recent researches on these two areas of virus-host relationships are reviewed.