Microbial Communication Networks: Sketching a Method for Analyzing the Communication of Bacteriophages Inside Environmental Communities

  • Charles Bernard
  • Philippe Lopez
  • Eric BaptesteEmail author


Recent functional studies have shed light into how the combinatorics of genes associated with quorum sensing (QS) – often described as an entity-entity communication mechanism – may support different communication modalities in bacteriophages. Specifically, only systems of QS genes for phage to phage communication and eavesdropping on bacterial communication molecules have been characterized so far, which represents only a fraction of the spectrum of all the possible communication modalities predicted by this combinatory logic. However, we argue that computational methods are already available to systematically mine the genomes of viruses and other microorganisms for QS genes, to compare these genes together across genomes, and to infer many novel links and types of communication between microbiological entities. All these putative communication links could be conveniently represented together in the form of a network, which would summarize which virus is suspected to interact with which microbiological entity, via which QS signaling molecule and foremost, under which communication modality. Besides, with the recent advents of metagenomics and metaviromics that enable accessing to genomes sequenced from the same environmental site, it would be theoretically possible to use this methodology to partially infer the big picture of communication inside a real community of viruses and cellular organisms. Finally, we discuss how the systematic analysis of such predicted microbial communication networks could provide insights into the many forms and “social” consequences that the biocommunication of viruses may imply.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Bernard
    • 1
    • 2
  • Philippe Lopez
    • 1
  • Eric Bapteste
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB)Sorbonne Université, CNRS, Museum National d’Histoire NaturelleParisFrance
  2. 2.Unité Molécules de Communication et Adaptation des Micro-organismes (MCAM), CNRS, Museum National d’Histoire NaturelleParisFrance

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