Laboratoire MAPIEM (UR 4323)

Matériaux Polymères Interfaces Environnement Marin

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Quorum sensing in biofilms: a key mechanism to target in ecotoxicological studies

Publication Focus

Lami, R.; Urios, L.; Molmeret, M.; Grimaud, R. Quorum Sensing in Biofilms: A Key Mechanism to Target in Ecotoxicological Studies. Critical Reviews in Microbiology 2022, 1–19.


Our environment is heavily contaminated by anthropogenic compounds, and this issue constitutes a significant threat to all life forms, including biofilm-forming microorganisms. Cell–cell interactions shape microbial community structures and functions, and pollutants that affect intercellular communications impact biofilm functions and ecological roles. There is a growing interest in environmental science fields for evaluating how anthropogenic pollutants impact cell–cell interactions. In this review, we synthesize existing literature that evaluates the impacts of quorum sensing (QS), which is a widespread density-dependent communication system occurring within many bacterial groups forming biofilms. First, we examine the perturbating effects of environmental contaminants on QS circuits; and our findings reveal that QS is an essential yet underexplored mechanism affected by pollutants. Second, our work highlights that QS is an unsuspected and key resistance mechanism that assists bacteria in dealing with environmental contamination (caused by metals or organic pollutants) and that favors bacterial growth in unfavourable environments. We emphasize the value of considering QS a critical mechanism for monitoring microbial responses in ecotoxicology. Ultimately, we determine that QS circuits constitute promising targets for innovative biotechnological approaches with major perspectives for applications in the field of environmental science.


Biofilms; quorum sensing; microbial ecotoxicology; metals; organic pollutants