Evidence for quorum sensing in Clostridium botulinum 56A

L. Zhao, T. J. Montville, D. W. Schaffner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


Aims: Experiments were designed to detect quorum-sensing signals produced by Clostridium botulinum. Methods and Results: Clostridium botulinum 56A cell-free supernatants obtained at the end of lag phase, the mid-exponential phase and early stationary phase of growth were assayed for bioluminescence in the Vibrio harveyi quorum-sensing assay system. Twelve and 16-h culture supernatants induced bioluminescence in the auto-inducer 2 (AI-2) but not the auto-inducer 1 (AI-1) assay. Intra-species quorum sensing was also assayed as the ability of the supernatants to promote spore germination and outgrowth in a microtitre plate system. Spore populations exposed to C. botulinum supernatant from the end of lag phase became positive for growth sooner than controls. Conclusions: The influence of cell-free supernatant on ungerminated spores and detection of bioluminescence in the AI-2 assay are evidence for a signalling molecule(s) and provide a first step in characterizing C. botulinum quorum sensing. Significance and Impact of the Study: This study suggests that spores do not behave independently of each other and may explain the inocula size effects observed in challenge studies. Whether AI-2 production in C. botulinum serves as an inter-species signal or as a detoxification mechanism remains to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-58
Number of pages5
JournalLetters in Applied Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


  • Autoinducer-1
  • Autoinducer-2
  • Bioluminescence
  • Spores
  • Vibrio harveyi

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