Drs. Afsar Ali and J. Glenn Morris contributed to research published Tuesday, November 27 in Nature that found that "quorum sensing" among Vibrio cholerae within arthropod hosts keeps the cholera infection from becoming lethal to the host.
Quorum sensing is a process by which bacteria produce molecules called "autoinducers" that, once they have accumulated passed a particular concentration threshold, have the potential to allow the bacteria to respond collectively to environmental factors. In the Drosophila melanogaster intestine, quorum sensing led to a decrease in V. cholerae succinate uptake. Because intestinal succinate is a necessary metabolite for the host, increased host access to this metabolite mitigates lipid wasting as a result of the V. cholerae infection, thus extending the life of the host.