Behind the Paper - Bacillus subtilis biofilm development in the presence of soil clay minerals and iron oxides
Discover the story behind our paper, "Bacillus subtilis biofilm development in the presence of soil clay minerals and iron oxides", which was published in npj Biofilms and Microbiomes
Our article entitled "Bacillus subtilis biofilm development in the presence of soil clay minerals and iron oxides biofilm development in the presence of soil clay minerals and iron oxides biofilm development in the presence of soil clay minerals and iron oxides" was published in the journal npj Biofilms and Microbiomes. The Nature Research team had a few questions for us about our article, which we have answered below.
What was the main aim of your research and why did you decide to investigate this?
Soil microbial biofilms play a vital role in the formation and stability of soil aggregates, weathering of minerals, maintenance of bacterial diversity, cycling of nutrients and pollutants, and degradation and sequestration of organic carbon. These processes and functions deeply determine soil fertility, quality and health. Clay minerals and metal oxides are essential parts of the soil matrix and strongly influence the structure of microbial communities in soils. Very little is known about the interactions between bacteria and fine clay particles from the perstective of biological processes. The main aim of our research is to study how the bioﬁlm development of bacteria is regulated by soil clay minerals and iron oxides.
How did you go about designing your study?
The selected clay minerals (montmorillonite and kaolinite) and iron oxide (goethite) are common minerals in soils, which have different structure, physical and chemical properties. Effects of minerals on bacterial biofilm formation and the mechanisms were analyzed by the crystal violet staining method combined with chemical analysis, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM).
What challenges did you face?
RNA extraction and AFM observation for biofilms in the presence of minerals are the main challenges in our study.
What were the key findings from your research?
Compared to phyllosilicate minerals (montmorillonite, kaolinite), iron oxide (goethite) accelerates bacterial biofilm formation in the liquid–air interface. Bacterial sensing may play an important role in the interactions between bacteria and clays.
What next? What further research is needed in this area?
Soils are highly structured and heterogeneous systems with a large number of microenvironments, which are colonized by a variety of microorganisms. These microorganisms actively sense and shape their immediate environment, resulting in the formation of diverse and highly reactive biogeochemical interfaces. We are now interested in understanding the role of biofilm in these interfaces, both in terms of interactions between soil bacteria and minerals, social interactions in multi-species biofilm, as well as the controlling factors and kinetics of such processes.