Quorum sensing in Vibrio spp.: the complexity of multiple signalling molecules in marine and aquatic environments
Quorum sensing (QS) is a density-dependent mechanism enabling bacteria to coordinate their actions via the release of small diffusible molecules named autoinducers (AIs). Vibrio spp. are able to adapt to changing environmental conditions by using a wide range of physiological mechanisms and many species pose a threat for human health and diverse marine and estuarine ecosystems worldwide. Cell-to-cell communication controls many of their vital functions such as niche colonization, survival strategies, or virulence. In this review, I summarize (1) the different known QS pathways (2) the diversity of AIs as well as their biological functions, and (3) the QS-mediated interactions between Vibrio and other organisms. However, the current knowledge is limited to a few pathogenic or bioluminescent species and in order to provide a genus-wide view an inventory of QS genes among 87 Vibrio species has been made. The large diversity of signal molecules and their differential effects on a particular physiological function suggest that the complexity of multiple signalling systems within bacterial communities is far from being fully understood. I question here the real level of specificity of such communication in the environment and discuss the different perspectives in order to better apprehend QS in natural habitats.