Prize Medal Winner 2022: Professor Bonnie Bassler

Posted on May 18, 2022   by Microbiology Society

The Microbiology Society’s Prize Medal recognises those who are global leaders in their field and have made a far-reaching impact beyond the field of microbiology. This year’s Prize Medal was awarded to Professor Bonnie Bassler for her global impact in microbiology. 


Joining the lecture remotely from the United States, the Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology Chair at Princeton University, USA and Medical Institute Investigator at Department of Molecular Biology at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USA, presented her lecture on ‘Quorum sensing across domains: from viruses to bacteria to eukaryotes’.

In her lecture, Prof Bassler explained the research she has undertaken throughout her career into quorum sensing, a process whereby bacteria communicate via chemicals known as ‘autoinducers’. The release and receptor-binding of these autoinducers results in altered gene expression leading to the onset of a group behaviour. As Prof Bassler explains, “The bacteria have to understand times when they’re alone or when they’re in groups. They behave differently based on those two scenarios”.

In the second half of the lecture, Prof Bassler went on to share recent findings with the audience, including the realisation that eukaryotes harbouring quorum-sensing bacteria act in a symbiotic fashion, in that the eukaryotes were found to act as a source of the substrates for autoinducers. Prof Bassler additionally discussed the prospect of utilising potential points of disruption of quorum sensing for the development of new antimicrobials.

An interview with Prof Bassler is available to watch online where she delves further into her career history and shares the epiphanic moment when she first learned of the concept of quorum sensing.


You can watch Prof Bassler’s Prize Medal Lecture on our YouTube channel


Image: Alena Soboleva