Microbial chemical signaling: A current perspective

H. M H N Bandara*, O. L T Lam, L. J. Jin, Lakshman Samaranayake

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

77 Citations (Scopus)


Communication among microorganisms is mediated through quorum sensing. The latter is defined as cell-density linked, coordinated gene expression in microbial populations as a response to threshold signal concentrations followed by induction of a synchronized population response. This phenomenon is used by a variety of microbes to optimize their survival in a constantly challenging, dynamic milieu, by correlating individual cellular functions to community-based requirements. The synthesis, secretion, and perception of quorum-sensing molecules and their target response play a pivotal role in quorum sensing and are tightly controlled by complex, multilayered and interconnected signal transduction pathways that regulate diverse cellular functions. Quorum sensing exemplifies interactive social behavior innate to the microbial world that controls features such as, virulence, biofilm maturation, antibiotic resistance, swarming motility, and conjugal plasmid transfer. Over the past two decades, studies have been performed to rationalize bacterial cell-to-cell communication mediated by structurally and functionally diverse small molecules. This review describes the theoretical aspects of cellular and quorum-sensing mechanisms that affect microbial physiology and pathobiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-249
Number of pages33
JournalCritical Reviews in Microbiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • Autoinducer
  • Bacteria
  • Cell-cell signaling
  • Fungi
  • Quorum sensing


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