Kin selection, quorum sensing and virulence in pathogenic bacteria

Rumbaugh, Kendra P., Trivedi, Urvish, Watters, Chase, Burton-Chellew, Maxwell N., Diggle, Stephen P. and West, Stuart A. (2012) Kin selection, quorum sensing and virulence in pathogenic bacteria. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 279 (1742). pp. 3584-3588. ISSN 0962-8452

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Bacterial growth and virulence often depends upon the cooperative release of extracellular factors excreted in

response to quorum sensing (QS).We carried out an in vivo selection experiment in mice to examine how QS

evolves in response to variation in relatedness (strain diversity), and the consequences for virulence. We

started our experiment with two bacterial strains: a wild-type that both produces and responds to QS

signal molecules, and a lasR (signal-blind) mutant that does not release extracellular factors in response

to signal. We found that: (i) QS leads to greater growth within hosts; (ii) high relatedness favours the QS

wild-type; and (iii) low relatedness favours the lasR mutant. Relatedness matters in our experiment because,

at relatively low relatedness, the lasR mutant is able to exploit the extracellular factors produced by the cells

that respond to QS, and hence increase in frequency. Furthermore, our results suggest that because a higher

relatedness favours cooperative QS, and hence leads to higher growth, this will also lead to a higher virulence,

giving a relationship between relatedness and virulence that is in the opposite direction to that usually predicted

by virulence theory.

Item Type: Article
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Life Sciences > School of Molecular Medical Sciences
Identification Number:
Depositing User: de Sousa, Mrs Shona
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2014 11:07
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 20:21

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