Quorum sensing is an intercellular form of communication that bacteria use to coordinate group behaviors such as biofilm formation and the production of antibiotics and virulence factors. The term quorum sensing was originally coined to describe the mechanism underlying the onset of luminescence production in cultures of the marine bacterium Vibrio fischeri
. Luminescence and, more generally, quorum sensing are important for V. fischeri
to form a mutualistic symbiosis with the Hawaiian bobtail squid, Euprymna scolopes.
The symbiosis is established when V. fischeri
cells migrate via flagella-based motility from the surrounding seawater into a specialized structure injuvenile squid called the light organ. The cells grow to high cell densities within the light organ where the infection persists over the lifetime of the animal. A hallmark of a successful symbiosis is the luminescence produced by V. fischeri
that camouflages the squid at night by eliminating its shadow within the water column. While the regulatory networks governing quorum sensing are critical for properly regulating V. fischeri
luminescence within the squid light organ, they also regulate luminescence-independent processes during symbiosis. In this review, we discuss the quorum-sensing network of V. fischeri
and highlight its impact at various stages during host colonization.