Inter-cell communication aided by released chemical signals when cell density reaches a critical concentration has been investigated for over 30 years as quorum sensing. Originally discovered in Gram-negative bacteria, quorum-sensing systems have also been studied extensively in Gram-positive bacteria and dimorphic fungi. Microbial communities communicating via quorum sensing employ various chemical signals to supervise their surrounding environment, alter genetic expression and gain advantage over their competitors. These signals vary from acylhomoserine lactones to small modified or unmodified peptides to complex γ-butyrolactone molecules. The scope of this review is to give an insight into some of the quorum-sensing systems now known and to explore their role in microbial physiology and development of pathogenesis. Particular attention will be dedicated to the signalling molecules involved in quorum-sensing-mediated processes and the potential shown by some of their natural and synthetic analogues in the treatment of infections triggered by quorum sensing.
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