Synthetic Biology for Manipulating Quorum Sensing in Microbial Consortia

Trends Microbiol. 2020 Aug;28(8):633-643. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2020.03.009. Epub 2020 Apr 24.


Bacteria exist as communities in diverse multispecies environments. Quorum sensing, a process for cell-cell communication, allows individual bacteria to glean information about their surroundings and coordinate activities with their neighbors. Recent studies indicate the importance of quorum sensing in microbiomes, but many questions remain regarding how quorum sensing may influence the composition and function of these communities. Synthetic biology, a field where scientists seek to design biological systems with predictable behavior, may provide tools to probe and manipulate quorum sensing behavior in natural consortia. In parallel, quorum sensing processes can be used as a tool in synthetic biology to construct synthetic cocultures with desired behavior. Here, we review recent synthetic biology strategies for manipulating quorum sensing processes in microbial consortia.

Keywords: microbial consortia; quorum sensing; synthetic biology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Microbial Consortia / physiology*
  • Quorum Sensing / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Skin / microbiology
  • Synthetic Biology / methods*