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Issue 5, 2018
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Engineering chemical interactions in microbial communities

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Microbes living within host-associated microbial communities (microbiotas) rely on chemical communication to interact with surrounding organisms. These interactions serve many purposes, from supplying the multicellular host with nutrients to antagonizing invading pathogens, and breakdown of chemical signaling has potentially negative consequences for both the host and microbiota. Efforts to engineer microbes to take part in chemical interactions represent a promising strategy for modulating chemical signaling within these complex communities. In this review, we discuss prominent examples of chemical interactions found within host-associated microbial communities, with an emphasis on the plant-root microbiota and the intestinal microbiota of animals. We then highlight how an understanding of such interactions has guided efforts to engineer microbes to participate in chemical signaling in these habitats. We discuss engineering efforts in the context of chemical interactions that enable host colonization, promote host health, and exclude pathogens. Finally, we describe prominent challenges facing this field and propose new directions for future engineering efforts.

Graphical abstract: Engineering chemical interactions in microbial communities

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Publication details

The article was received on 13 Sep 2017 and first published on 06 Dec 2017

Article type: Review Article
DOI: 10.1039/C7CS00664K
Chem. Soc. Rev., 2018,47, 1705-1729

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    Engineering chemical interactions in microbial communities

    D. J. Kenny and E. P. Balskus, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2018, 47, 1705
    DOI: 10.1039/C7CS00664K

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