Send to

Choose Destination
Trends Microbiol. 2009 May;17(5):189-95. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2009.02.001. Epub 2009 Apr 15.

More than a signal: non-signaling properties of quorum sensing molecules.

Author information

Section of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


Quorum sensing in bacteria serves as an example of the adaptation of single-celled organisms to engage in cooperative group behaviors. This phenomenon is much more widespread than originally thought, with many different species 'speaking' through various secreted small molecules. Despite some variation in signaling molecules, the principles of quorum sensing are conserved across a wide range of organisms. Small molecules, secreted into the environment, are detected by neighbors who respond by altering gene expression and, as a consequence, behavior. However, it is not known whether these systems evolved specifically for this purpose, or even if their role is exclusive to information trafficking. Rather, clues exist that many quorum sensing molecules function as more than just signals. Here, we discuss non-signaling roles for quorum sensing molecules in such important processes as nutrient scavenging, ultrastructure modification and competition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center