Inter-kingdom signalling: communication between bacteria and their hosts

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2008 Feb;6(2):111-20. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1836.


Microorganisms and their hosts communicate with each other through an array of hormonal signals. This cross-kingdom cell-to-cell signalling involves small molecules, such as hormones that are produced by eukaryotes and hormone-like chemicals that are produced by bacteria. Cell-to-cell signalling between bacteria, usually referred to as quorum sensing, was initially described as a means by which bacteria achieve signalling in microbial communities to coordinate gene expression within a population. Recent evidence shows, however, that quorum-sensing signalling is not restricted to bacterial cell-to-cell communication, but also allows communication between microorganisms and their hosts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 4-Butyrolactone / analogs & derivatives
  • 4-Butyrolactone / metabolism
  • Acyl-Butyrolactones / metabolism
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Eukaryotic Cells / microbiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Plants / microbiology*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Acyl-Butyrolactones
  • Hormones
  • N-(3-oxohexanoyl)-3-aminodihydro-2(3H)-furanone
  • 4-Butyrolactone