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Bonnie Bassler wants to understand how bacteria communicate and orchestrate group behaviors. This process, known as quorum sensing, relies on chemical “words” and enables populations of bacteria to regulate gene expression, and therefore behavior, on a community-wide scale. Through a range of approaches, Bassler and her team are providing insight into: intra-species, inter-species, and inter-domain communication; population-level cooperation; and the principles underlying signal transduction and information processing at the population and individual cell levels. One objective of Bassler’s team is to develop quorum-sensing interference strategies to combat pathogenic bacteria that use this process to regulate virulence.