Quorum-sensing and cheating in bacterial biofilms

Popat, Roman and Crusz, Shanika A. and Messina, Marco and Willams, Paul and West, Stuart A. and Diggle, Stephen P. (2012) Quorum-sensing and cheating in bacterial biofilms. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279 (1748). pp. 4765-4771. ISSN 1471-2954

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Abstract

The idea from human societies that self-interest can lead to a breakdown of cooperation at the group level

is sometimes termed the public goods dilemma. We tested this idea in the opportunistic bacterial pathogen,

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, by examining the influence of putative cheats that do not cooperate via

cell-to-cell signalling (quorum-sensing, QS).We found that: (i) QS cheating occurs in biofilm populations

owing to exploitation of QS-regulated public goods; (ii) the thickness and density of biofilms was reduced

by the presence of non-cooperative cheats; (iii) population growth was reduced by the presence of cheats,

and this reduction was greater in biofilms than in planktonic populations; (iv) the susceptibility of biofilms

to antibiotics was increased by the presence of cheats; and (v) coercing cooperator cells to increase their

level of cooperation decreases the extent to which the presence of cheats reduces population productivity.

Our results provide clear support that conflict over public goods reduces population fitness in bacterial

biofilms, and that this effect is greater than in planktonic populations. Finally, we discuss the clinical

implications that arise from altering the susceptibility to antibiotics.

Item Type: Article
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham UK Campus > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Life Sciences > School of Molecular Medical Sciences
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2012.1976
Depositing User: de Sousa, Mrs Shona
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2014 11:45
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2016 16:28
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/2730

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