Apr 26, 2016

The fitness burden imposed by synthesizing quorum sensing signals

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
A RuparellK R Hardie


It is now well established that bacterial populations utilize cell-to-cell signaling (quorum-sensing, QS) to control the production of public goods and other co-operative behaviours. Evolutionary theory predicts that both the cost of signal production and the response to signals should incur fitness costs for producing cells. Although costs imposed by the downstream consequences of QS have been shown, it has not been demonstrated that the production of QS signal molecules (QSSMs) results in a decrease in fitness. We measured the fitness cost to cells of synthesising QSSMs by quantifying metabolite levels in the presence of QSSM synthases. We found that: (i) bacteria making QSSMs have a growth defect that exerts an evolutionary cost, (ii) production of QSSMs correlates with reduced intracellular concentrations of QSSM precursors, (iii) the production of heterologous QSSMs negatively impacts the production of a native QSSM that shares common substrates, and (iv) supplementation with exogenously added metabolites partially rescued growth defects imposed by QSSM synthesis. These data provide the first direct experimental evidence that the production of QS signals carries fitness costs to producer cells.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Thyroid Hormone Plasma Membrane Transport Defect
Intercellular Communication Process
Quorum Sensing

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