Unusual microbes

A continuation of the section Bacteria that can count -- and talk -- on quorum sensing and related topics

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Some web sites and references for more information...

Talking Bacteria, and How to Shut Them Up, by Ker Than, March 10, 2005. https://www.livescience.com/6891-talking-bacteria-shut.html.

Cell-to-Cell Communication in Bacteria. A site from Dr Bonnie Bassler, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator at Princeton. https://www.hhmi.org/scientists/bonnie-l-bassler. Includes many informational pages, from a pioneer in the field.

Biofilms. A general overview. K Sauer et al, Biofilms and Biocomplexity. Microbe 2:347, July 2007. Microbe, the news magazine of the American Society for Microbiology, is free online; this item is at https://www.asmscience.org/content/journal/microbe/10.1128/microbe.2.347.1.

And beyond. If you post messages in public places, others may read them. Eukaryotes may read bacterial signals -- and may even try to disrupt them, as first shown in 1995. How they do it might give us ideas for new antibiotics -- that work by disrupting bacterial quorum sensing. W D Bauer et al, Eukaryotes Deal with Bacterial Quorum Sensing. ASM News 71:129, 3/05. The article is archived at http://web.archive.org/web/20070715230515/http://www.asm.org/ASM/files/ccLibraryFiles/FILENAME/000000001442/znw00305000129.pdf. This article is also listed in the answer key to an organic/biochem practice quiz. Quiz: Alkenes and alkynes. Answer key.

If quorum sensing (QS) is part of the pathogenic process, then disrupting QS may be useful in treating infections. K D Janda's group has developed an antibody to a QS signaling molecule. A vaccine based on this antibody protects mice from Staph infections. A news page from Scripps, November 5, 2007: M Schrope & M Ono, Team Blocks Bacterial Communication System to Prevent Deadly Staph Infections: https://www.scripps.edu/newsandviews/e_20071105/staph.html. The paper behind this news page is J Park et al, Infection Control by Antibody Disruption of Bacterial Quorum Sensing Signaling. Chemistry & Biology 14:1119, October 2007.

Probiotics are bacteria that may be good for you; some may interfere with pathogens. A recent paper showed that Lactobacillus acidophilus somehow interferes with the quorum sensing mechanisms of the serious Escherichia coli pathogenic strain O157:H7. The work so far is in vitro, and awaits testing in animals. The paper is M J Medellin-Pena et al, Probiotics Affect Virulence-Related Gene Expression in Escherichia coli O157:H7. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 73:4259, July 2007. https://aem.asm.org/content/73/13/4259.

Microbe magazine published a series of three feature articles on the broad topic of bacterial communication, including quorum sensing. They provide historical perspective, from pioneers in the field. May 2010: Volume 5, issue 5. The articles are freely available at: https://www.asmscience.org/content/journal/microbe/5/5.
The three articles are:
* R Kolter, Reflections on the History of Microbial Chemical Ecology (p 201);
* E P Greenberg, Sociomicrobiology: a Personal Perspective on an Emerging Research Area (p 206);
* W Hastings, Bioluminescence Insights and Quorum Sensibilities (p 212).

The understanding of the role of quorum sensing in the cholera infection has led to the development of a probiotic to exploit the normal signaling, and thus help combat the infection. See the Musings post: Designing a probiotic that fights cholera (December 13, 2010).

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Last update: August 25, 2019