Quorum-Sensing Systems in Bacillus

  • Lalit K. Singh
  • Neha Dhasmana
  • Yogendra Singh


Since centuries bacteria were thought to be unicellular organisms. The discovery of bacterial communication through small molecules has asserted that bacteria can efficiently coordinate intraspecies as well as interspecies. The bacteria become more benefitted and suitable of behaving like a multicellular organism to adopt new modes of growth in limited nutrient supply. Under adverse conditions, single bacterial cell has less chance to survive in isolation; consequently bacterial language has been developed during evolution to communicate with its neighbours through self-generated signals (Bassler and Losick 2006). These signalling small molecules are called as pheromones or autoinducers. These autoinducers sense a critical bacterial density in population (Kievit et al. 2000; Williams et al. 2007).


Extracellular Polymeric Substance Quorum Sense Bacterial Cell Density Quorum Sense Molecule Century Bacterium 
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.



The authors wish to thank the director of CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), CSIR-GENCODE (BSC0123), Government of India, for providing the necessary funds and facilities. Authors are also thankful to the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR), New Delhi. LKS is thankful to UGC and ND is thankful to CSIR for granting Senior Research Fellowships. We highly acknowledge Dr. V. C. Kalia and Mr. Prasun Kumar from CSIR-IGIB, Delhi, India, for their critical comments in the manuscript.


  1. Aguilar C, Vlamakis H, Losick R, Kolter R (2007) Thinking about Bacillus subtilis as a multicellular organism. Curr Opin Microbiol 10:638–643. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2007. 09.006 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Atkinson S, Williams P (2009) Quorum sensing and social networking in the microbial world. J R Soc Interface 6:959–978. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2009.0203 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Bassler BL, Losick R (2006) Bacterially speaking. Cell 125:237–246. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2006.04.001 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beauregard PB, Chai Y, Vlamakis H, Losick R, Kolter R (2013) Bacillus subtilis biofilm induction by plant polysaccharides. Proc Natl Acad Sci 110:E1621–E1630. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1218984110 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Boyle KE, Heilmann S, Ditmarsch DV, Xavier JB (2013) Exploiting social evolution in biofilms. Curr Opin Microbiol 16:207–212. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2013.01.003 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Davey ME, O’toole GA (2000) Microbial biofilms: from ecology to molecular genetics. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 64:847–867PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. Donlan RM, Costerton JW (2002) Biofilms: survival mechanisms of clinically relevant microorganisms. Clin Microbiol Rev 15:167–193. doi: 10.1128/CMR.15.2.167-193.2002 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Flemming HC, Wingender J (2010) The biofilm matrix. Nat Rev Microbiol 8:623–633. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2415 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Flemming HC, Neu TR, Wozniak DJ (2007) The EPS matrix: “The house of biofilm cells”. J Bacteriol 189:7945–7947. doi: 10.1128/JB.00858-07 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Fujita M, Losick R (2005) Evidence that entry into sporulation in Bacillus subtilis is governed by a gradual increase in the level and activity of the master regulator Spo0A. Genes Dev 19:2236–2244. doi: 10.1101/gad.1335705 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Grenha R, Slamti L, Nicaise M, Refes Y, Lereclus D, Nessler S (2012) Structural basis for the activation mechanism of PlcR virulence regulator by the quorum-sensing signal peptide PapR. Proc Natl Acad Sci 110:1047–1052. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1213770110 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Hong KW, Koh CL, Sam CK, Yin WF, Chan KG (2012) Quorum quenching revisited-from signal decays to signalling confusion. Sensors 12:4661–4696. doi: 10.3390/s120404661 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Jones MB, Peterson SN, Benn R, Braisted JC, Jarrahi B, Shatzkes K, Ren D, Wood TK, Blaser MJ (2010) Role of luxS in Bacillus anthracis growth and virulence factor expression. Virulence 1:72–83. doi: 10.4161/viru.1.2.10752 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Kalia VC (2013) Quorum sensing inhibitors: an overview. Biotechnol Adv 31:224–245. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2012.10.004 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kalia VC, Purohit HJ (2011) Quenching the quorum sensing system: potential antibacterial drug targets. Crit Rev Microbiol 37:121–140. doi: 10.3109/1040841X. 2010.532479 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kalia VC, Raju SC, Purohit HJ (2011) Genomic analysis reveals versatile organisms for quorum quenching enzymes: acyl-homoserine lactone-acylase and lactonase. Open Microbiol J 5:1–13. doi: 10.2174/1874285801105010001 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Kievit TR, Iglewski BH (2000) Bacterial quorum sensing in pathogenic relationships. Infect Immun 68:4839–4849. doi: 10.1128/IAI.68.9.4839-4849.2000 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Kostakioti M, Hadjifrangiskou M, Hultgren SJ (2013) Bacterial biofilms: development, dispersal and therapeutic strategies in the dawn of the postantibiotic era. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 3:a010306. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a010306 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Kumar P, Patel SKS, Lee JK, Kalia VC (2013) Extending the limits of Bacillus for novel biotechnological applications. Biotechnol Adv 31:1543–1561. doi: 10.1016/j.biotech adv.2013.08.007 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lamsa A, Liu WT, Dorrestein PC, Pogliano K (2012) The Bacillus subtilis cannibalism toxin SDP collapses the proton motive force and induces autolysis. Mol Microbiol 84:486–500. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2012.08038 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lemon KP, Earl AM, Vlamakis HC, Aguilar C, Kolter R (2008) Biofilm development with an emphasis on Bacillus subtilis. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol 322:1–16PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Li YH, Tian X (2012) Quorum sensing and bacterial social interactions in biofilms. Sensors 12:2519–2538. doi: 10.3390/s120302519 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. López D, Kolter R (2009) Extracellular signals that define distinct and coexisting cell fates in Bacillus subtilis. FEMS Microbiol Rev 34:134–149. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.2009.00199.x PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. López D, Vlamakis H, Losick R, Kolter R (2009) Cannibalism enhances biofilm development in Bacillus subtilis. Mol Microbiol 74:609–618. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2009.06882.x PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Mehta P, Goyal S, Long T, Bassler BL, Wingreen NS (2009) Information processing and signal integration in bacterial quorum sensing. Mol Syst Biol 5:325. doi: 10.1038/msb. 2009.79 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Miller MB, Bassler BL (2001) Quorum sensing in bacteria. Annu Rev Microbiol 55:165–199. doi: 10.1146/annurev.micro.55.1.165 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Monds RD, O’Toole GA (2009) The developmental model of microbial biofilms: ten years of a paradigm up for review. Trends Microbiol 17:73–87. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2008.11.001 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Parsek MR, Greenberg EP (2005) Sociomicrobiology: the connection between quorum sensing and biofilms. Trends Microbiol 13:27–33. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2004.11.007 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rutherford ST, Bassler BL (2012) Bacterial quorum sensing: Its role in virulence and possibilities for its control. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 2:a012427. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a012427 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schultz D, Wolynes PG, Ben Jacob E, Onuchic JN (2009) Deciding fate in adverse times: sporulation and competence in Bacillus subtilis. Proc Natl Acad Sci 106:21027–21034. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0912185106 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  31. Shank EA, Kolter R (2011) Extracellular signaling and multicellularity in Bacillus subtilis. Curr Opin Microbiol 14:741–747. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2011.09.016 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Shank EA, Klepac-Ceraj V, Collado-Torres L, Powers GE, Losick R, Kolter R (2011) Interspecies interactions that result in Bacillus subtilis forming biofilms are mediated mainly by members of its own genus. Proc Natl Acad Sci 108:E1236–E1243. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1103630108 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  33. Steidle A, Sigl K, Schuhegger R, Ihring A, Schmid M, Gantner S, Stoffels M, Riedel K, Givskov M, Hartmann A, Langebartels C, Eberl L (2001) Visualization of N-acylhomoserine lactone-mediated cell-cell communication between bacteria colonizing the tomato rhizosphere. Appl Environ Microbiol 67:5761–5770. doi: 10.1128/AEM.67.12.5761-5770.2001 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. Stewart PS, Franklin MJ (2008) Physiological heterogeneity in biofilms. Nat Rev Microbiol 6:199–210. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1838 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Turovskiy Y, Kashtanov D, Paskhover B, Chikindas ML (2007) Quorum sensing: fact, fiction and everything in between. Adv Appl Microbiol 62:191–234. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2164(07)62007-3 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  36. Vlamakis H, Chai Y, Beauregard P, Losick R, Kolter R (2013) Sticking together: building a biofilm the Bacillus subtilis way. Nat Rev Microbiol 11:157–168. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2960 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. Waters CM, Bassler BL (2005) Quorum sensing: cell-to cell communication in bacteria. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol 21:319–346. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.21.012704.131001 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Williams P, Winzer K, Chan WC, Cámara M (2007) Look who’s talking: communication and quorum sensing in the bacterial world. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 362:1119–1134. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2007.2039 PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  39. Worthington RJ, Richards JJ, Melander C (2012) Small molecule control of bacterial biofilms. Org Biomol Chem 10:7457–7474. doi: 10.1039/c2ob25835h PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer India 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lalit K. Singh
    • 1
  • Neha Dhasmana
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yogendra Singh
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Allergy and Infectious DiseasesCSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative BiologyDelhiIndia
  2. 2.Academy of Scientific & Innovative Research (AcSIR)New DelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations