Quorum sensing is the ability of bacteria to communicate and coordinate behavior via signaling molecules. The reason for these systems seem to have evolved is to coordinate behaviours or actions between individual bacterial cells depending on their number. For example, opportunistic bacteria can grow within a host without harming it, until they reach a certain concentration. When their numbers are sufficient to overcome the host’s immune system, they change their behavior and cause disease.
This is a really hot topic in microbiology at the present time, so MicrobiologyBytes has devoted the last two podcasts to it. If you’d like to know more, try: