Matters Microbial #24: It takes a quorum to cause disease

January 18, 2024

Today, Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Julia van Kessel of Indiana University will chat with us about how groups of bacteria can sense one another and carry out behavior as a collective…including some kinds of disease!

Host: Mark O. Martin

Guest: Julia van Kessel

Download MM#24 (48 MB .mp3, 61 min)
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  • An introduction to the horrific disease leprosy, caused by the quite strange organism Mycobacterium leprae.
  • An overview of the Hansen Institute in Ethiopia.
  • A solid overview of quorum sensing.
  • A very interesting review article about quorum sensing.
  • A video that two of my Bio350 Micronauts (including a former guest of our podcast, Dr. Ruth Isenberg) put together some years ago to illustrate the idea of quorum sensing.
  • A very clear overview of quorum sensing by the highly energetic and brilliant Dr. Bonnie Bassler, one of the giants of this field.
  • A #LuxArt show I organized a few years ago at Carleton College, where I encouraged students to create art by “painting” with luminous bacteria on Petri dishes.  It is a true merger of art and science.
  • Using Chromobacterium to “look” for quorum sensing molecules.  I made this imperfect video to illustrate the concept.
  • My old friend Vibrio harveyi, which Dr. van Kessel uses in her laboratory.
  • Vibrio coralliilyticus, which causes coral diseases.
  • If you are interested in learning about how some bacteria have what seems to be a molecular switchblade knife—the Type 6 Secretory System— to use against other bacteria or other organisms, the link above is a fine place to start.  In addition, a Bio350 student of mine made a lovely Claymation video of the process some years ago.
  • Here is Dr. van Kessel’s faculty website at Indiana University in Bloomington.
  • Here is the laboratory website—with excellent graphics and videos—of Dr. van Kessel’s group.

Intro music is by Reber Clark

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