Matthew Parsek

Microbiology

My research involves the study of bacterial communities. This research focuses on two aspects that are closely related. Quorum sensing is a term used to describe the regulation of gene expression according to population densities, many Gram-negative bacteria use specific signaling molecules, called acyl-homoserine lactones (acy-HSLs), to sense the presence of other bacteria of the same species in the bacterial cell membrane. At high cell densities the acyl-HSL reaches a critical concentration at which expression of quorum sensing-controlled genes is induced. Therefore, quorum sensing constitutes a rudimentary communication system between bacteria that allows them to coordinate behavior at the community level.