A mathematical model for quorum sensing in Pseudomonas aeruginosa

  • Jack D. DockeryEmail author
  • James P. Keener


The bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa use the size and density of their colonies to regulate the production of a large variety of substances, including toxins. This phenomenon, called quorum sensing, apparently enables colonies to grow to sufficient size undetected by the immune system of the host organism.

In this paper, we present a mathematical model of quorum sensing in P. aeruginosa that is based on the known biochemistry of regulation of the autoinducer that is crucial to this signalling mechanism. Using this model we show that quorum sensing works because of a biochemical switch between two stable steady solutions, one with low levels of autoinducer and one with high levels of autoinducer.


Steady Solution Solution Branch LasB Transcriptional Activator Protein Constant Initial Data 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Anderson, J. B., C. Sternberg, L. K. Poulsen, M. Givskov and S. Molin (1998). New unstable variants of green fluorescent protein for studies of transient gene expression in bacteria. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 64, 2240–2246.Google Scholar
  2. Chalfie, M., Y. Tu, G. Euskirchen, W. W. Ward and D. C. Prasher (1994). Green fluorescent protein as a marker for gene expression. Science 263, 802–805.Google Scholar
  3. Characklis, W. G. and K. C. Marshall (1990). Biofilms, New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.Google Scholar
  4. Davies, D. G., M. R. Parsek, J. P. Pearson, B. H. Iglewski, J. W. Costerton and E. P. Greenberg (1998). The involvement of cell-to-cell signals in the development of bacterial biofilm. Science 280, 295–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ehrenberg, M. and A. Sverredal (1995). A model for copy number control of the plasmid R1. J. Mol. Biol. 246, 472–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fuqua, C., S. C. Winans and E. P. Greenberg (1996). Census and concensus in bacterial ecosystems: The luxR-luxI family of quorum-sensing transcriptional regulators. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 50, 727–751.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Govan, J. R. and V. Deretic (1996). Microbial pathogenesis in cystic fibrosis: mucoid pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkolderia cepacia. Microbiol. Rev 60, 539–574.Google Scholar
  8. James, S., P. Nilsson, G. James, S. Kjelleberg and T. Fagerström (2000). Luminescence control in the marine bacterium Vibrio fischeri: An analysis of the dynamics of lux regulation. J. Mol. Biol. 296, 1127–1137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Pearson, J. P., C. Van Delden and B. H. Iglewski (1999). Active efflux and diffusion are involved in transport of Pseudomonas aeruginosa cell-to-cell signals. J. Bacteriol. 181(4), 1203–1210.Google Scholar
  10. Van Delden, C. and B. H. Iglewski (1998). Cell-to-cell signaling and Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. Emerging Infect. Dis. 4, 551–560.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ward, J. P., J. R. King and A. J. Koerber (2000). Mathematical modelling of quorum sensing in bacteria. Preprint.Google Scholar
  12. Weinberger, H. F. (1983). A simple system with a continuum of stable inhomogeneous steady states, in Nonlinear Partial Differential Equations in Applied Science (Tokyo, 1982), Amsterdam: North-Holland, pp. 345–359.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Society for Mathematical Biology 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MathematicsMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA
  2. 2.Department of MathematicsUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

Personalised recommendations