What is Quorum Sensing?
In the early 1970s it was discovered that bacteria possess the ability to communicate with one another. As more research was done it was discovered that chemical signaling molecules, called auto-inducers, produced by each individual bacterium, allow colonies of bacteria to regulate collective behavior. In effect, it allows a colony to function as a single organism. This process of communication is called quorum sensing.
The coordinated group behaviors regulated by quorum sensing are many and diverse. Movement, growth rates and the production of protective chemicals are three such examples. The regulation of virulence - the bacterial actions that cause disease, is another example. This is the function of quorum sensing that is of interest to us, and it is our main area of research.