Quorum signaling (QS) describes how bacteria can use small signaling molecules (autoinducers) to coordinate group-level behaviors. In Vibrio fischeri, QS is achieved through a complex regulatory network that ultimately controls bioluminescence, motility, and host colonization. We conducted a genetic screen focused on qrr1, which encodes a small regulatory RNA that is necessary for the core quorum-signaling cascade to transduce autoinducer information into cellular responses. We isolated unique mutants with a transposon inserted into one of two genes within the syp locus, which is involved in biofilm formation. We found that overexpression of sypK, which encodes a putative oligosaccharide translocase, is sufficient to activate qrr1, and, in addition, this effect appears to depend on the kinase activity of the sensor LuxQ. Consistent with the established model for QS in V. fischeri, enhanced expression of qrr1 by the overexpression of sypK resulted in reduced bioluminescence and increased motility. Finally, we found that induction of the syp locus by overexpression of sypG was sufficient to activate qrr1 levels. Together, our results show how conditions that promote biofilm formation impact the quorum-signaling network in V. fischeri, and further highlight the integrated nature of the regulatory circuits involved in complex bacterial behaviors.
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