Calling all cholera

Steven Veach

Cholera bacteria communicate to join forces and increase their ability to infect victims, according to research published in Nature by Bonnie Bassler, the Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology, and her Princeton colleagues. Bassler’s lab studies “quorum sensing,” in which bacteria send messages to each other by producing signaling chemicals. A mutant form of cholera bacteria that could not produce signal molecules was found to be less virulent, and while studying the mutant bacteria, the researchers also discovered a molecule that encourages cholera bacteria to “prematurely terminate virulence,” according to a release from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The finding could lead to more effective treatment of cholera and other bacterial diseases. Though rare in the United States, cholera remains a dangerous and sometimes-deadly disease in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.