Emergent robustness of bacterial quorum sensing in fluid flow.

Author: 

Dalwadi, M
Pearce, P

Publication Date: 

3 March 2021

Journal: 

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Last Updated: 

2021-11-28T09:21:07.657+00:00

Issue: 

10

Volume: 

118

DOI: 

10.1073/pnas.2022312118

page: 

e2022312118-e2022312118

abstract: 

Bacteria use intercellular signaling, or quorum sensing (QS), to share information and respond collectively to aspects of their surroundings. The autoinducers that carry this information are exposed to the external environment; consequently, they are affected by factors such as removal through fluid flow, a ubiquitous feature of bacterial habitats ranging from the gut and lungs to lakes and oceans. To understand how QS genetic architectures in cells promote appropriate population-level phenotypes throughout the bacterial life cycle requires knowledge of how these architectures determine the QS response in realistic spatiotemporally varying flow conditions. Here we develop and apply a general theory that identifies and quantifies the conditions required for QS activation in fluid flow by systematically linking cell- and population-level genetic and physical processes. We predict that when a subset of the population meets these conditions, cell-level positive feedback promotes a robust collective response by overcoming flow-induced autoinducer concentration gradients. By accounting for a dynamic flow in our theory, we predict that positive feedback in cells acts as a low-pass filter at the population level in oscillatory flow, allowing a population to respond only to changes in flow that occur over slow enough timescales. Our theory is readily extendable and provides a framework for assessing the functional roles of diverse QS network architectures in realistic flow conditions.

Symplectic id: 

1167817

Submitted to ORA: 

Submitted

Publication Type: 

Journal Article