The fitness burden imposed by synthesising quorum sensing signals

Ruparell, Avika and Dubern, Jean-Frédéric and Ortori, Catharine A. and Harrison, F. and Halliday, N.M. and Emtage, A. and Ashawesh, M.M. and Laughton, Charles A. and Diggle, Stephen P. and Williams, P. and Barrett, David A. and Hardie, Kim R. (2016) The fitness burden imposed by synthesising quorum sensing signals. Scientific Reports, 6 . p. 33101. ISSN 2045-2322

PDF - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Available under Licence Creative Commons Attribution.
Download (701kB) | Preview


It is now well established that bacterial populations utilize cell-to-cell signaling (quorum-sensing, QS) to control the production of public goods and other co-operative behaviours. Evolutionary theory predicts that both the cost of signal production and the response to signals should incur fitness costs for producing cells. Although costs imposed by the downstream consequences of QS have been shown, the cost of QS signal molecule (QSSM) production and its impact on fitness has not been examined. We measured the fitness cost to cells of synthesising QSSMs by quantifying metabolite levels in the presence of QSSM synthases. We found that: (i) bacteria making certain QSSMs have a growth defect that exerts an evolutionary cost, (ii) production of QSSMs negatively correlates with intracellular concentrations of QSSM precursors, (iii) the production of heterologous QSSMs negatively impacts the production of a native QSSM that shares common substrates, and (iv) supplementation with exogenously added metabolites partially rescued growth defects imposed by QSSM synthesis. These data identify the sources of the fitness costs incurred by QSSM producer cells, and indicate that there may be metabolic trade-offs associated with QS signaling that could exert selection on how signaling evolves.

Item Type: Article
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham UK Campus > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Life Sciences
University of Nottingham UK Campus > Faculty of Science > School of Pharmacy
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2016 14:02
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2016 14:02

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View