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Current Opinion in Food Science
Vol. 2, 2015, Pages: 100–105

How microbes communicate in food: a review of signaling molecules and their impact on food quality

Françoise Rul, Véronique Monnet

INRA, UMR1319 MICALIS, F-78350 Jouy-en-Josas, France.


Food ecosystems, and thus food properties, are affected by the development of microorganisms and their ability to interact and communicate. Microbial communication occurs via signaling molecules and is often based on quorum sensing (i.e., stimuli and responses correlated with population density). In bacteria, four groups of signaling molecules have been identified: the autoinducer-2 family, which is found across all bacteria; peptides, which are used by Gram positive bacteria; acyl-homoserine lactones and autoinducer 3, which are used by Gram negative bacteria. In yeasts, the main signaling molecules are alcohols. Microbial communication systems can ultimately influence food quality by affecting both sensory quality (development of beneficial bacteria) and safety (limiting the growth of pathogens and spoilers).

Graphical abstract

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