The Role of Quorum Sensing in Biofilm Development
Quorum-sensing (QS) systems have been discovered in over 100 microbial species, many of which use these cell-to-cell signaling mechanisms for the coordinated production of biofilms. While our understanding of QS dynamics in laboratory culture conditions has dramatically expanded over the last few decades, we still understand very little about how these systems govern bacterial behavior in complex, natural settings. What we do know is that QS can influence every stage of biofilm formation; however, this influence is dependent on the microorganism and the type of QS system it employs. Furthermore, QS can both positively and negatively regulate biofilm formation in different environmental conditions. Investigations of QS in situ have been hampered by a lack of experimental tools; however, innovative new strategies are being developed that should help shed light on the involvement of QS in complex, polymicrobial biofilms. While developing agents that modulate QS to control microbial biofilm formation has faced significant hurdles, there are some promising agents in development and a more complete understanding of the role QS plays in biofilm formation should help drive future advances.
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