BWIS Sponsored Event

"Brookhaven Women in Science and Technology Colloquia Series: Tiny Conspiracies: Cell-to-Cell Communication in Bacteria"

Presented by Bonnie Bassler, Princeton University

Thursday, March 24, 2011, 4:00 pm — Berkner Hall Auditorium

Bacteria communicate with one another using small chemical molecules that they release into the environment. These molecules travel from cell to cell and the bacteria have receptors on their surfaces that allow them to detect and respond to the build up of the molecules. This process of cell-to-cell communication in bacteria is called “Quorum Sensing” and it allows bacteria to synchronize behavior on a population-wide scale. Bacterial behaviors controlled by quorum sensing are usually ones that are unproductive when undertaken by an individual bacterium acting alone but become effective when undertaken in unison by the group. For example, quorum sensing controls virulence, sporulation, and the exchange of DNA. Thus, quorum sensing is a mechanism that allows bacteria to function as multi-cellular organisms. Cell-to-cell communication in bacteria was likely one of the first steps in the evolution of higher organisms. Current biomedical research is focused on the development of novel anti-bacterial therapies aimed at interfering with quorum sensing. Such therapies could be used to control bacterial pathogenicity.

Hosted by: Kathleen Walker

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