Quorum sensing in fungi--a review

Med Mycol. 2012 May;50(4):337-45. doi: 10.3109/13693786.2011.652201. Epub 2012 Jan 24.


Quorum sensing (QS) is a mechanism of microbial communication dependent on cell density that can regulate several behaviors in bacteria such as secretion of virulence factors, biofilm formation, competence and bioluminescence. The existence of fungal QS systems was revealed ten years ago after the discovery that farnesol controls filamentation in the pathogenic polymorphic fungus Candida albicans. In the past decade, farnesol has been shown to play multiple roles in C. albicans physiology as a signaling molecule and inducing detrimental effects on host cells and other microbes. In addition to farnesol, the aromatic alcohol tyrosol was also found to be a C. albicans QS molecule (QSM) controlling growth, morphogenesis and biofilm formation. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, two other aromatic alcohols, phenylethanol and tryptophol were found to be QSMs regulating morphogenesis during nitrogen starvation conditions. Additionally, population density-dependent behaviors that resemble QS have been described in several other fungal species. Although fungal QS research is still in its infancy, its discovery has changed our views about the fungal kingdom and could eventually lead to the development of new antifungal therapeutics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Fungi / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal*
  • Quorum Sensing*