Quorum sensing, virulence and secondary metabolite production in plant soft-rotting bacteria

Anne M.L. Barnard, Steven D. Bowden, Tom Burr, Sarah J. Coulthurst, Rita E. Monson, George P.C. Salmond

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Quorum sensing describes the ability of bacteria to sense their population density and respond by modulating gene expression. In the plant soft-rotting bacteria, such as Erwinia, an arsenal of plant cell wall-degrading enzymes is produced in a cell density-dependent manner, which causes maceration of plant tissue. However, quorum sensing is central not only to controlling the production of such destructive enzymes, but also to the control of a number of other virulence determinants and secondary metabolites. Erwinia synthesizes both N-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) and autoinducer-2 types of quorum sensing signal, which both play a role in regulating gene expression in the phytopathogen. We review the models for AHL-based regulation of carbapenem antibiotic production in Erwinia. We also discuss the importance of quorum sensing in the production and secretion of virulence determinants by Erwinia, and its interplay with other regulatory systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1165-1183
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1483
StatePublished - Jul 29 2007


  • Carbapenem antibiotic
  • Erwinia
  • N-acylhomoserine lactone
  • Phytopathogenicity
  • Quorum sensing
  • Virulence


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