Date of this Version


Document Type




Cell-to-cell communication (quorum sensing (QS)) co-ordinates bacterial behaviour at a population level. Consequently the behaviour of a natural multi-species community is likely to depend at least in part on co-existing QS and quorum quenching (QQ) activities. Here we sought to discover novelN-acylhomoserine lactone (AHL)-dependent QS and QQ strains by investigating a bacterial community associated with the rhizosphere of ginger (Zingiber officinale) growing in the Malaysian rainforest.


By using a basal growth medium containing N-(3-oxohexanoyl)homoserine lactone (3-oxo-C6-HSL) as the sole source of carbon and nitrogen, the ginger rhizosphere associated bacteria were enriched for strains with AHL-degrading capabilities. Three isolates belonging to the generaAcinetobacter (GG2), Burkholderia (GG4) and Klebsiella (Se14) were identified and selected for further study. Strains GG2 and Se14 exhibited the broadest spectrum of AHL-degrading activities via lactonolysis while GG4 reduced 3-oxo-AHLs to the corresponding 3-hydroxy compounds. In GG2 and GG4, QQ was found to co-exist with AHL-dependent QS and GG2 was shown to inactivate both self-generated and exogenously supplied AHLs. GG2, GG4 and Se14 were each able to attenuate virulence factor production in both human and plant pathogens.


Collectively our data show that ginger rhizosphere bacteria which make and degrade a wide range of AHLs are likely to play a collective role in determining the QS-dependent phenotype of a polymicrobial community.


This article was originally published in BMC Microbiology 2011, 11:51 doi:10.1186/1471-2180-11-51.

© 2011 Chan et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.