Communication in bacteria

Stephen P. Diggle, Stuart A. West, Andy Gardner and Ashleigh S. Griffin

in Sociobiology of Communication

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199216840
Published online September 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191712043 | DOI:
 Communication in bacteria

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The term quorum sensing (QS) is used to describe communication between bacterial cells, whereby a coordinated population response is controlled by diffusible signal molecules. QS has not only been described between cells of the same species (intraspecies), but also between bacterial species (interspecies) and between bacteria and higher organisms (interkingdom). This chapter compares the evolutionary literature on animal signalling and cooperation with the microbiological literature on QS, and discusses whether bacterial QS can be considered true signalling. From an evolutionary perspective, intraspecies signalling can be explained using models such as kin selection, but explanations become more difficult when communication is described between species. It is likely that this often involves QS molecules being used as ‘cues’ by other species as a guide to future action or as coercing molecules whereby one species will ‘coerce’ another into a response.

Keywords: quorum sensing; bacterial cells; cheating; social evolution; intraspecies; interkingdom; kin selection

Chapter.  12776 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences

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