Bacterial Signalling

Karina Xavier

Bacteria use small chemical molecules called autoinducers to communicate with one another by a process called quorum sensing. This process enables a population of bacteria to regulate behaviours, which are only productive when many bacteria act in concert as a group, similarly to what happens with multi-cellular organisms.

Behaviours regulated by quorum sensing are often crucial for successful bacterial-host relationships whether symbiotic and pathogenic.

In the Bacterial signalling laboratory biochemical and genetic approaches are used to study the molecular mechanisms underlying quorum sensing, with an emphasis on systems promoting bacterial interspecies communication.

This research includes an integrated study involving elucidation of the chemical molecules that are used as signals, the network components involved in detecting the signals and processing information inside individual cells, and finally characterization of the behaviour of the bacterial community in multi-species bacterial consortia.

The research ultimate goal is to understand how bacterial signalling shapes the multi-species bacterial microbiota communities that can be found in animals and plants and how these communities affect host physiology. In particular researchers are interested in understanding how bacterial signalling plays a role in assembling, maintenance and resilience of microbiota communities.