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Roles of Diffusible Signals in Communication Among Plant-Associated Bacteria

February 2007 , Volume 97 , Number  2
Pages  227 - 232

Leland S. Pierson III and Elizabeth A. Pierson

Department of Plant Sciences, Division of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, The University of Arizona, Tucson 85721

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In nature, Pseudomonas species compete and co-exist in mixed communities with a diversity of prokaryotic and eukaryotic micro- and macroorganisms. Many bacteria produce various signals that control gene expression and thus contribute to specific bacterial behaviors and coordinate essential functions with other members of the community. The best-studied signaling compounds are N-acyl-homoserine lactones (AHLs), which are involved in quorum sensing (QS) regulation and are produced by a diverse range of bacterial taxa. To date, research on QS has focused on how signals control gene expression in the bacterial cell and the role of these signals in positive and negative communication among different groups of organisms. Additionally, mechanisms for AHL decay and AHL utilization as sole carbon/energy sources have been identified. Some host organisms produce compounds that can mimic AHLs, and some bacterial signals can influence host gene expression. Thus, interkingdom communication may be more widespread than previously believed. Our current understanding of individual, community and bacterial-host interactions is still in its infancy and there are many exciting discoveries yet to be made.

© 2007 The American Phytopathological Society