Research Topic

Nanomaterial-Biofilm Interactions

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While increasing applications of both natural and engineered nanomaterials (NMs) posit a technological panacea, they constitute a very real health threat. Nanoparticles have received much interest in both medicine and the environment. Their interactions with bacteria are especially important in their use as ...

While increasing applications of both natural and engineered nanomaterials (NMs) posit a technological panacea, they constitute a very real health threat. Nanoparticles have received much interest in both medicine and the environment. Their interactions with bacteria are especially important in their use as ‘probes and sensors’, and as tools for potentially destroying bacteria (e.g. infection control), and/or manipulating bacteria. Increasing entry of engineered NMs into the environment has resulted in growing environmental and health concerns as the field of nanotechnology continues to expand. In addition to engineered NPs, many natural nano-sized particles are generated through physical, chemical and geological processes and are ubiquitously found in the environment. Such natural NMs influence important environmental processes such as soil genesis, biogeochemical element cycling, and contaminant transport/transformation.

Bacteria are an essential component of natural and many engineered systems, and often the first organisms to interact with introduced compounds. In the environment, most bacteria occur as biofilms where cells are attached and surrounded by a secreted matrix of “sticky” extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). The microbial biofilm, wherever in sediments, other surfaces, or as planktonic aggregates, constitutes a community in itself. Biofilms are also essential components of most natural and many applied systems that are exposed to NPs. Recent investigations have established that significant accumulations of NMs occurred in aquatic biofilms. These studies point to the emerging and important role of biofilms for influencing the overall environmental partitioning of NMs. The physicochemical properties of NM surfaces can affect the way NPs are deposited on the biofilm surface. This has important implications for the environmental health and safety of NPs. Upon NM entrance into biofilms, physicochemical properties of the EPS matrix within the biofilms may affect the subsequent movement and accumulation of NPs, hence altering the ability of biofilms to serve as an environmental sink for NMs.

This proposed Research Topic on ‘Nanomaterial-Biofilm Interactions’ is especially timely because although there have been publications addressing: 1) bacteria biofilms and/or their EPS; and 2) nanomaterials, there have been no Research Topics to our knowledge that addresses the interactions of biofilms and NMs. The papers in this Research Topic will be of strong interest to the readers of Frontiers in Microbiology, and ties well with previous papers published in your journal. The text will be fashioned to be understandable by the wide range of readers of Frontiers in Microbiology in Microbiology, such as physicists, chemists, engineers, and biologists. This Research Topic will serve as an important foundation for future exploration and technological designs of NMs.


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