Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 12, pp 5197–5208 | Cite as

A novel antifungal property for the Bacillus licheniformis ComX pheromone and its possible role in inter-kingdom cross-talk

  • Elham Esmaeilishirazifard
  • Aliakbar Dariush
  • Sterghios A. Moschos
  • Tajalli Keshavarz
Applied genetics and molecular biotechnology


Quorum sensing molecules (QSMs) regulate, through a chemical communication process, multiple complex systems in bacterial and some fungal populations on the basis of cell density. The bacterial QSMs involved in inter-kingdom cross-talk may exhibit antagonistic activity against fungi. This provides an important opportunity for biocontrol of fungal invasion in plants. It has been shown that cultures of Bacillus spp. inhibit fungal growth. Here, we explore the inhibitory potential of the industrial workhorse Bacillus licheniformis NCIMB-8874 and its QSM (ComX pheromone) on the growth of Aspergillus flavus, a cereal, legume, and nut crop pathogen. Our studies show that ComX filtered extracts from cultures of B. licheniformis can cause a significant reduction in the growth of A. flavus NRRL 3357 and ESP 15 at a concentration as low as 13 μg ml−1. This work evidences, for the first time, the inter-kingdom utility of the bacterial quorum sensing ComX pheromone indicating potential antifungal food security against A. flavus.


Quorum sensing molecule Bacillus Aspergillus Natural antifungal Fungal colony area Inter-kingdom communication 



We thank the laboratory staff member of the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Westminster, for all the supports. We also thank Dr. Pamela Greenwell for valuable discussions.


This work was part of a PhD project and supported by University of Westminster and the expenses were covered by the department of life sciences.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

253_2018_9004_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (475 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 474 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elham Esmaeilishirazifard
    • 1
  • Aliakbar Dariush
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sterghios A. Moschos
    • 4
    • 5
  • Tajalli Keshavarz
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science and TechnologyUniversity of WestminsterLondonUK
  2. 2.Institute of AstronomyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Cancer Research UK Cambridge InstituteUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  4. 4.Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Science and TechnologyUniversity of WestminsterLondonUK
  5. 5.Department of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Health and Life SciencesNorthumbria UniversityNewcastleUK

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