Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization -- Department for Nonlinear Dynamics and Network Dynamics Group
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MPI Kolloquium

Wednesday, 29.05.2013 15 c.t.

Chinese whispers: noise in Quorum Sensing

by Javier Buceta Fernández, Ph.D.
from Barcelona Sience Park (PCB) CoSMo Lab (Computer Simulation and Modeling), Universitat de Barcelona, Spain

Contact person: Theo Geisel


Ludwig Prandtl lecture hall


A wide range of bacteria species are known to communicate through the so called quorum sensing (QS) mechanism by means of which they produce a small molecule that can freely diffuse in the environment and in the cells. Upon reaching a threshold concentration, the signaling molecule activates the QS-controlled genes synchronously in the whole cell population. This mechanism, for its simplicity, has become the model system for studying the emergence of coordinated behavior in prokaryotic cells. Yet, how cells precisely measure the signal concentration and act in synchrony, despite the presence of fluctuations that unavoidably affects cell regulation and signaling, remains unclear. Herein I'll review different aspects of the QS mechanism where noise is playing a crucial role. In particular, I'll show how bacteria regulate the fluctuations to achieve communication, what elements of the genetic regulation control noise, and finally the implications in the field of the stochastic modifications of the epigenetic landscape.

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