Quorum sensing is a term used to describe cell-to-cell communication that allows cell density-dependent gene expression. Working in collaboration with E. Peter Greenberg, we recently described a new chemical dialect of the homoserine lactone (HSL) quorum sensing language. We think the dialect that we have discovered is likely one of many new and as yet undiscovered dialects that allow bacteria to communicate with each other, and possibly also with their plant or animal hosts. We are now working to identify and explore other non-canonical homoserine lactone quorum-sensing systems in other bacteria. We are also exploring whether bacteria use new dialects of quorum signaling to signal plant or animal hosts host as well as to communicate with each other.
These studies include approaches of protein purification and characterization, transcriptomics, mass spectrometry and NMR.