Research Interests

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Bacterial quorum sensing

Quorum sensing is a process in which bacteria secrete specific signaling molecules to which they are also sensitive. To a first approximation, it seems that Quorum Sensing allow cells to sense and respond to their density (hence the name). However, it is clear that the roles of quorum sensing are far more complex in realistic microbial systems. Our lab is studying quorum sensing systems from a multi-disciplinary view by combining approaches from microbiology, systems biology and evolutionary biology. As model organisms we use the species Bacillus subtilis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa - arguably the best studied model organisms for gram positive and gram negative quorum-sensing systems.

Some of the specific questions we are interested in include:

Bacterial quorum-sensing and cooperation in spatially complex communities

Complex communities (such as biofilms) exhibit significant spatial variation in gene expression patterns. This implies that quorum-sensing signals, their perception and the impact of the quorum-response, may all vary in space. We study this variation, its impact on the behavior of quorum-sensing circuits and its resulting consequences on the entire community.

Design principles of bacterial quorum-sensing networks

The simplest model of quorum sensing requires a single constitutively expressed signaling molecule. Many bacteria, however, have multiple signaling systems which are often interlinked in a complex regulatory network. We study why cells use multiple quorum-sensing systems and what the design principles behind their interactions are.

Social evolution of quorum-sensing systems

Quorum-sensing is a cooperative bacterial trait which is often used to regulate other cooperative traits. Like many other cooperative traits, quorum-sensing bacteria are faced with exploitive (‘cheating’) strategies. However, the complexity of a quorum-sensing network allows for multiple, qualitativly different, exploitive strategies. We study the social interaction between different strategies and their impact on the evolution of bacterial quorum sensing systems. We use this approach to ask questions about the diversification of quorum-sensing systems, on the structure of quorum-sensing networks and on the evolution of resistance to quorum-sensing inhibiting drugs.

Engineering social strategies in bacteria

In addition to studying natural systems, we utilize our understanding of social interactions in bacteria to engineer novel social interactions that will allow us to control natural communities or design synthetic communities. 


Current funding agencies:

logo-erc-seul          israel science foundation     

What's new?

April 17 - New ERC grant is up and running. Looking for students!!

Dec 16 - Congradulations to Eran Even-Tov, Shira Omer and Shaul Pollak for another publication in PLOS Biology

In this work we use phylogenetic and experimental analysis to characterize the divergence patterns of the Rap-Phr system. Specifically, we show that duplications of the Phr signal mediate specificity transitions.

Dec 16 - We just got our second ERC grant!!

Feb 16 - Congradulations to Eran Even Tov and Shira Omer for their publication in PLOS Biology in collaboration with the Bassler lab

In this work we show how the accumulation of multiple, redundant, quorum-sensing systems depends on the architecture of the systems and on social cheating.

Jan 16 - Congradulation to Shaul Pollak for publishing in PNAS!!

In this work we show experimentally that ComQXP pherotypes undergo negative frequency dependent selection during swarming.






Dr. Avigdor Eldar | Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel | Office: Green, 134 | Lab: Green, 132-133 | Phone: +972-3-640-7492 | Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.