Functional modulation of chemical mediators in microbial communities

Trends Biochem Sci. 2023 Jan;48(1):71-81. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2022.07.006. Epub 2022 Aug 16.


Interactions between microorganisms are often mediated by specialized metabolites. Although the structures and biosynthesis of these compounds may have been elucidated, microbes exist within complex microbiomes and chemical signals can thus also be subject to community-dependent modifications. Increasingly powerful chemical and biological tools allow to shed light on this poorly understood aspect of chemical ecology. We provide an overview of loss-of-function and gain-of-function chemical mediator (CM) modifications within microbial multipartner relationships. Although loss-of-function modifications are abundant in the literature, few gain-of-function modifications have been described despite their important role in microbial interactions. Research in this field holds great potential for our understanding of microbial interactions and may also provide novel tools for targeted interference with microbial signaling.

Keywords: biodegradation; biosynthesis; biotransformation, chemical ecology; natural products.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Microbiota*