Can the natural diversity of quorum-sensing advance synthetic biology?

René Michele Davis, Ryan Yue Muller, Karmella Haynes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Quorum-sensing networks enable bacteria to sense and respond to chemical signals produced by neighboring bacteria. They are widespread: over 100 morphologically and genetically distinct species of eubacteria are known to use quorum sensing to control gene expression. This diversity suggests the potential to use natural protein variants to engineer parallel, input-specific, cell-cell communication pathways. However, only three distinct signaling pathways, Lux, Las, and Rhl, have been adapted for and broadly used in engineered systems. The paucity of unique quorum-sensing systems and their propensity for crosstalk limits the usefulness of our current quorum-sensing toolkit. This review discusses the need for more signaling pathways, roadblocks to using multiple pathways in parallel, and strategies for expanding the quorum-sensing toolbox for synthetic biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number30
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
Issue numberMAR
StatePublished - 2015


  • Crosstalk
  • Genetic wire
  • Homoserine lactone
  • Orthogonal
  • Quorum sensing
  • Synthetic gene circuit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Histology
  • Biomedical Engineering


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