Slimy streams

Biofilms dominate microbial life in streams and rivers, this work shows we may begin to understand the ecology of stream ecosystems.

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Biofilms in streams are complex jungles of microbial life. Their diversity spans over all three domains of life and orchestrates critical ecosystem processes. It is the large surface area of the stream sediments that offers ample opportunities for biofilms to establish themselves and to develop innumerable faces. Battin and colleagues1 describe the biofilms in stream sediments as the microbial skin of the drainage basin that regulates major biogeochemical fluxes and that influences the cocktail of molecules that leaves the basins, ultimately ending up in the ocean. Their work now paves the way towards a more mechanistic understanding of the impacts of climate change and global change on the microbial ecology of streams. And let’s not forget that there is an ocean of slimy streams on Earth jointly contributing to global biogeochemical fluxes.

1. Battin, T. J., Besemer, K., Bengtsson, M. M., Romani, A. M. & Packmann, A. I. The ecology and biogeochemistry of stream biofilms. Nat. Rev. Microbiol. 14, 251–263 (2016).

Nicolas Fanget

Associate Editor, Springer Nature

I am a microbiologist by training, but I manage a portfolio of varied journals. The ones most relevant to this Community are npj Biofilms and Microbiomes, npj Clean Water, npj Science of Food, npj Systems Biology and Applications and npj Vaccines. Full list of my journals in my LinkedIn profile.