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Nat Commun. 2013;4:1809. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2789.

Interspecific bacterial sensing through airborne signals modulates locomotion and drug resistance.

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Superbacteria Research Center, Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, 125 Gwahak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 305-806, Korea.


Bacteria use chemical signals to sense each other and to regulate various physiological functions. Although it is known that some airborne volatile organic compounds function as bacterial signalling molecules, their identities and effects on global gene expression and bacterial physiological processes remain largely unknown. Here we perform microarray analyses of Escherichia coli exposed to volatile organic compounds emitted from Bacillus subtilis. We find that 2,3-butanedione and glyoxylic acid mediate global changes in gene expression related to motility and antibiotic resistance. Volatile organic compound-dependent phenotypes are conserved among bacteria and are regulated by the previously uncharacterized ypdB gene product through the downstream transcription factors soxS, rpoS or yjhU. These results strongly suggest that bacteria use airborne volatile organic compounds to sense other bacteria and to change master regulatory gene activity to adapt.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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