In recent years, the alkyl-quinolone molecular framework has already provided a rich source of bioactivity for the development of novel anti-infective compounds. Based on the quorum-sensing signalling molecules 4-hydroxy-2-heptylquinoline (HHQ) and 3,4-dihydroxy-2-heptylquinoline (PQS) from the nosocomial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa, modifications have been developed with markedly enhanced anti-biofilm bioactivity towards important fungal and bacterial pathogens, including Candida albicans and Aspergillus fumigatus. Here we show that antibacterial activity of HHQ against Vibrionaceae is species-specific and it requires an exquisite level of structural fidelity within the alkyl-quinolone molecular framework. Antibacterial activity was demonstrated against the serious human pathogens Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio cholerae as well as a panel of bioluminescent squid symbiont Allivibrio fischeri isolates. In contrast, Vibrio parahaemolyticus growth and biofilm formation was unaffected in the presence of HHQ and all the structural variants tested. In general, modification to almost all of the molecule except the alkyl-chain end, led to loss of activity. This suggests that the bacteriostatic activity of HHQ requires the concerted action of the entire framework components. The only exception to this pattern was deuteration of HHQ at the C3 position. HHQ modified with a terminal alkene at the quinolone alkyl chain retained bacteriostatic activity and was also found to activate PqsR signalling comparable to the native agonist. The data from this integrated analysis provides novel insights into the structural flexibility underpinning the signalling activity of the complex alkyl-quinolone molecular communication system.