Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.99, No.13, 5383-5390, 2015
Implications of endophyte-plant crosstalk in light of quorum responses for plant biotechnology
Quorum sensing, the cell-to-cell communication system mediated by autoinducers, is responsible for regulation of virulence factors, infections, invasion, colonization, biofilm formation, and antibiotic resistance within bacterial populations. Concomitantly, quorum quenching is a process that involves attenuation of virulence factors by inhibiting or degrading quorum signaling autoinducers. Survival of endophytic microorganisms, commonly known as endophytes, in planta is a continuous melee with invading pathogens and pests. In order to survive in their microhabitats inside plants, endophytes have co-evolved to not only utilize an arsenal of biologically active defense compounds but also impede communication between invading pathogens. Such antivirulence strategies prevent pathogens from communicating with or recognizing each other and thus, colonizing plants. The quenching phenomena often involves microbial crosstalk within single or mixed population(s) vis-a-vis gene expression, and production/modulation of quenching enzymes coupled to various antagonistic and synergistic interactions. This concept is particularly interesting because it can be bio-technologically translated in the future to quorum inhibiting antivirulence therapies without triggering resistance in bacteria, which is currently a major problem worldwide that cannot be tackled only with antimicrobial therapies. In this mini-review, we highlight the quorum quenching capacity of endophytes with respect to attenuation of virulence factors and aiding in plant defense response. Further, benefits and potential challenges of using such systems in biotechnology are discussed.