Bassler Lab

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Principal Investigator
Bonnie L. Bassler
Thomas Laboratory, 329
Cell-to-Cell Communication in Bacteria

Our lab wants to understand quorum sensing: the process of cell-cell communication in bacteria. Quorum sensing involves the production, release, and subsequent detection of chemical signal molecules called autoinducers. This process enables populations of bacteria to regulate gene expression, and therefore behavior, on a community-wide scale. Quorum sensing is wide-spread in the bacterial world, so understanding this process is fundamental to all of microbiology, including industrial and clinical microbiology, and ultimately to understanding the development of higher organisms Our studies of quorum sensing are providing insight into intra- and inter-species communication, population-level cooperation, and the design principles underlying signal transduction and information processing at the cellular level. These investigations are also leading to synthetic strategies for controlling quorum sensing. Our objectives include development of anti-microbial drugs aimed at bacteria that use quorum sensing to control virulence, and improved industrial production of natural products such as antibiotics. We have pursued our goal of understanding bacterial communication by combining genetics, biochemistry, structural biology, chemistry, microarray studies, bioinformatics, modeling, and engineering approaches.