Quorum Sensing: A New Method to Attack Bacteria

Asraa Ahmed

Bacteria are unicellular organisms that are able to cause infections within humans and, in some cases, they may be deadly. When these microscopic organisms become resistant to antibiotics, they are very persistent. You see, due to natural selection, eventually, as the effectiveness of antibiotics diminish, resistant strains emerge. These resistant strains reproduce and, suddenly, we have infections such as Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Quorum sensing is the regulation of gene expression in bacteria as a response to cell density fluctuations. This mechanism is similar to a communication system; the bacteria release small, diffusible molecules called autoinducers into their environment to alter gene expression. Quorum sensing is the mastermind behind a bacterium’s pathogenicity traits such as biofilm formation, virulence factors, and bioluminescence.

So the real question is, how can we utilize this mechanism in preventing bacterial growth? A recent study has tested caffeine to inhibit quorum sensing molecules. When the caffeine was used against the bacteria, the bacterial growth was completely halted and could not grow any further. What are the benefits of preventing bacterial growth rather than inhibiting it? No resistance! Caffeine does not attack the genetic material, which can cause mutations. Instead, by inhibiting the quorum sensing molecules, it prevents the bacteria from being pathogenic. This revolutionary breakthrough may lead to the future development of anti-ineffective drugs and a stop to resistant bacteria!

“Quorum Sensing in Bacteria.” Quorum Sensing in Bacteria | Annual Review of Microbiology. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.

Edited by: Kaylynn Crawford, Ruby Halfacre, and Shreya Singireddy