Mar 16, 2007

Look who's talking: communication and quorum sensing in the bacterial world

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
Paul WilliamsMiguel Cámara

Abstract

For many years bacteria were considered primarily as autonomous unicellular organisms with little capacity for collective behaviour. However, we now appreciate that bacterial cells are in fact, highly communicative. The generic term 'quorum sensing' has been adopted to describe the bacterial cell-to-cell communication mechanisms which co-ordinate gene expression usually, but not always, when the population has reached a high cell density. Quorum sensing depends on the synthesis of small molecules (often referred to as pheromones or autoinducers) that diffuse in and out of bacterial cells. As the bacterial population density increases, so does the synthesis of quorum sensing signal molecules, and consequently, their concentration in the external environment rises. Once a critical threshold concentration has been reached, a target sensor kinase or response regulator is activated (or repressed) so facilitating the expression of quorum sensing-dependent genes. Quorum sensing enables a bacterial population to mount a co-operative response that improves access to nutrients or specific environmental niches, promotes collective defence against other competitor prokaryotes or eukaryotic defence mechanisms and facilitates survival throug...Continue Reading

  • References156
  • Citations257

References

  • References156
  • Citations257

Citations

Mentioned in this Paper

Gram-Positive Bacteria
Autonomic Nervous System Disorders
Microorganism
Bacterial cell
L-isomer of Homoserine
Homoserine lactone, (S)-isomer
Cell Communication
Gene Expression
Lactones
Cell Differentiation Process

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