Intra-species bacterial quorum sensing studied at single cell level in a double droplet trapping system

Yunpeng Bai, Santoshkumar N. Patil, Steven D. Bowden, Simon Poulter, Jie Pan, George P C Salmond, Martin Welch, Wilhelm T S Huck, Chris Abell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In this paper, we investigated the intra-species bacterial quorum sensing at the single cell level using a double droplet trapping system. Escherichia coli transformed to express the quorum sensing receptor protein, LasR, were encapsulated in microdroplets that were positioned adjacent to microdroplets containing the autoinducer, N-(3-oxododecanoyl)-L-homoserine lactone (OdDHL). Functional activation of the LasR protein by diffusion of the OdDHL across the droplet interface was measured by monitoring the expression of green fluorescent protein (GFP) from a LasR-dependent promoter. A threshold concentration of OdDHL was found to induce production of quorum-sensing associated GFP by E. coli. Additionally, we demonstrated that LasR-dependent activation of GFP expression was also initiated when the adjacent droplets contained single E. coli transformed with the OdDHL synthase gene, LasI, representing a simple quorum sensing circuit between two droplets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10570-10581
Number of pages12
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Bacterial quorum sensing
  • Droplet-based microfluidics
  • Single cell

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