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Science Bulletin
Vol. 62 (7), 2017, Pages: 516-524

Microbe social skill: the cell-to-cell communication between microorganisms

XiZhaoa, XiongLiua, XinXua, Yu V.Fu

State Key Laboratory of Microbial Resources, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.


Although microbes primarily are single-cell organisms, they are not isolated individuals. Microbes use various means to communicate with one another. Based on the communication, microbes establish a social interaction with their neighbors in a specific ecological niche, and cooperative behaviors are normally performed to provide benefits on the population and species levels. In the microbiome era, in order to better understand the behaviors of microbes, deep understanding of the social communication between microbes hence becomes a key to interpret microbe behaviors. Here we summarize the molecular mechanisms that underlie the cell-to-cell communication in prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms, the recent discoveries and novel technologies in understanding the interspecies and interkingdom communication, and discuss new concepts of the sociomicrobiology.

Keywords: Cell-to-cell communication, Sociomicrobiology, Microbial collective behavior, Quorum sensing.

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