, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 249-265

Colonial organization and intercellular communication in microorganisms

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This review covers the modern concepts and recent data demonstrating the integrity and coherence of microbial populations (colonies, biofilms, etc.) as peculiar “superorganisms.” Special attention is given to such relevant phenomena as apoptosis, bacterial altruism, quorum effects, collective differentiation of microbial cells, and the formation of population-level structures such as an extracellular matrix. Emphasis is placed on the channels and agents of intercellular communication in microbial populations. The involvement of a large number of evolutionarily conserved communicational facilities and patterns of intercellular interactions is underscored. Much attention is also given to the role of colonial organization and intercellular communication in parasite/commensal/symbiont-multicellular host organism systems.