Quorum sensing

Feb 24, 2021
By Katie Acken

Quorum sensing

(Noun. /KWORE-rum SEN-sing/) 

What does it mean? 

Quorum sensing is how bacteria communicate with each other. Bacteria produce quorum sensing molecules, also called autoinducers, and secrete them into the surrounding environment. As bacteria continue to multiply, quorum sensing molecules accumulate in their surroundings. Once the quorum sensing molecules are concentrated enough, they cause the bacteria to turn on genes for group activities like bioluminescence, biofilm formation, and toxin production and secretion. 

Quorum sensing in Vibrio fischeri. Image.

How do I use it in a sentence?

“The bacterium Vibrio fischeri uses quorum sensing to regulate (turn off or on) bioluminescence.”

Vibrio fischeri grown on plates can bioluminesce thanks to quorum sensing. Image.

Fields of study in which this word is commonly used

Microbiology, biology

Related terms





Virulence factor

Edited by Anna Wheless and Emma Goldberg