Quorum quenching: role in nature and applied developments

FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2016 Jan;40(1):86-116. doi: 10.1093/femsre/fuv038. Epub 2015 Oct 1.


Quorum sensing (QS) refers to the capacity of bacteria to monitor their population density and regulate gene expression accordingly: the QS-regulated processes deal with multicellular behaviors (e.g. growth and development of biofilm), horizontal gene transfer and host-microbe (symbiosis and pathogenesis) and microbe-microbe interactions. QS signaling requires the synthesis, exchange and perception of bacterial compounds, called autoinducers or QS signals (e.g. N-acylhomoserine lactones). The disruption of QS signaling, also termed quorum quenching (QQ), encompasses very diverse phenomena and mechanisms which are presented and discussed in this review. First, we surveyed the QS-signal diversity and QS-associated responses for a better understanding of the targets of the QQ phenomena that organisms have naturally evolved and are currently actively investigated in applied perspectives. Next the mechanisms, targets and molecular actors associated with QS interference are presented, with a special emphasis on the description of natural QQ enzymes and chemicals acting as QS inhibitors. Selected QQ paradigms are detailed to exemplify the mechanisms and biological roles of QS inhibition in microbe-microbe and host-microbe interactions. Finally, some QQ strategies are presented as promising tools in different fields such as medicine, aquaculture, crop production and anti-biofouling area.

Keywords: Agrobacterium; Chromobacterium; Pseudomonas; acylase; amidase; anti-virulence; homoserine lactone; lactonase; paraoxonase; quorum-sensing inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acyl-Butyrolactones / metabolism
  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Biofilms*
  • Quorum Sensing / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Acyl-Butyrolactones