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Summary

Disruption of quorum sensing, bacterial cell-to-cell communication by means of small signal molecules, has been suggested as a new anti-infective strategy for aquaculture. However, data about the impact of quorum sensing on the virulence of aquatic pathogens are scarce. In this study, a model system using gnotobiotically cultured Artemia franciscana was developed in order to determine the impact of mutations in the quorum sensing systems of Aeromonas hydrophila, Vibrio anguillarum and V. harveyi on their virulence. Mutations in the autoinducer 2 (AI-2) synthase gene luxS, the AI-2 receptor gene luxP or the response regulator gene luxO of the dual channel quorum sensing system of V. harveyi abolished virulence of the strain towards Artemia. Moreover, the addition of an exogenous source of AI-2 could restore the virulence of an AI-2 non-producing mutant. In contrast, none of the mutations in either the acylated homoserine lactone (AHL)-mediated component of the V. harveyi system or the quorum sensing systems of Ae. hydrophila and V. anguillarum had an impact on virulence of these bacteria towards Artemia. Our results indicate that disruption of quorum sensing could be a good alternative strategy to combat infections caused by V. harveyi.