Potential Roles for Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid Signaling in Bacterial Communities

Sarah J. Quillin*, Peter Tran, Arthur Prindle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


It is now established that the gut microbiome influences human neurology and behavior, and vice versa. Distinct mechanisms underlying this bidirectional communication pathway, termed the gut-brain axis, are becoming increasingly uncovered. This review summarizes recent interkingdom signaling research focused on gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a human neurotransmitter and ubiquitous signaling molecule found in bacteria, fungi, plants, invertebrates, and mammals. We detail how GABAergic signaling has been shown to be a crucial component of the gut-brain axis. We further describe how GABA is also being found to mediate interkingdom signaling between algae and invertebrates, plants and invertebrates, and plants and bacteria. Based on these emerging results, we argue that obtaining a complete understanding of GABA-mediated communication in the gut-brain axis will involve deciphering the role of GABA signaling and metabolism within bacterial communities themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-125
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • GABA
  • Gut-brain axis
  • Interkingdom signaling
  • Microbial endocrinology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Transplantation


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