One of the key and prominent aspects of the biology of microbiomes as we know them is their interactions that are, in most instances, symbiotic. Nowadays, with the advancement of science and technology, there has been a trend in the context where individuals who are more science
and research centered is preferring to study these interactions with the help of multispecies models as well as microbial interaction in situ.
With the help of these studies across various and multiple microbial systems, various common and looped interaction mechanisms have been identified. These interactions range from the presence of pollutants, the competition of nutrients, cross-feeding mechanism, metal access, various signaling pathways, optimum pH, and numerous as well as diverse interactions across the biofilms.
With the rightful help of both science and technology, we are now able to use these studies to discover the underlying connection between various interdisciplinary scientific fields in which we have successfully combined the use of genetics, metabolomics, imaging, and microfluidic technique to have an insight regarding the processes that make up this worthy interaction and their impact on both the microbiomes and their environment.
What are Biofilms? One of the major threats to the earth’s ecosystem and its natural balance is the presence of a number of pollutants. This problem is mainly highlighted because of the thousand industrial processes that are ongoing every now and then. One significant and promising threat is heavy metals.
The over the top presence of these heavy metals are what poses a significant threat to both the aquatic culture and human beings.
Microbial films are specialized and dense ground communities of microbial organisms kept in close proximities and adhered together with the help of self-formed polymer matrixes. These polymer matrixes are usually made up of the following compounds:
● Protein complexes
● Extracellular DNAs
Biofilms are commonly found in both minerals and metals. They are also easy to spot under the water or ground and, in some cases,, above the surface. From growing on the tissue of both plants and animals to implanted medical devices, biofilms are present on a number of different surfaces.
One of the premium aspects that is common in all such locations is that they are all wet or have humidity in one shape or form. Whether they are moderately or periodically wet, water is the main component of such biofilms, and these surfaces are where you can easily find them.
Phytoremediation Phytoremediation is one of the hot topics of the 21st century. This is a cost-effective and almost pollutant-free method to make sure that nature is breathing again. It is a long-term strategy in which the microorganisms are used to decompose and break down the pollutants into those compounds that are no longer harmful either for the environment or for humans.
This is mainly because of their wide environmental stress range, decomposing abilities for a large number of contaminants via certain catabolic processes, which are their trademark, a high tolerance level for contaminants.
All the major contaminants decomposition in the plants are because of the interaction of plants and microbiomes. Biofilms host a wide variety of microorganisms that are the main for breaking down complex substances into simpler and non-toxic materials.
Then they are also apparent and significant for mobilizing the trapped ions. This is how they6 play their due role in enhancing the bioaccumulation properties of the pollutants.
When they are present in the biofilms, the microbiome does not have any place to roam free in the matrix. That is how they play their due role in acting as the first line of defense against the pollutants. With the help of microbial biofilm consortia, all the heavy metals, as well as toxic compounds, are removed.
In these times, when industrialization is the latest truth and so is environmental pollution, microbe bioremediation is one of those methods that are potentially suited and are highly cost-effective.
Hawaiian Bobtails What is it? A small nocturnal squid that is present along the coast of Hawaii is just the size of a thumb. During the daytime, it tends to stay hidden and only comes up at night to hunt and prey.
Role Of Hawaiin Bobtail and Its Glowing Bacteria Hawaiian Bobtail squids are present in large numbers along the coast of Hawaii. It stays mundanely in shelters during the daytime, but the light of the moon at night exposes this creature to a plethora of predators.
The bacteria that has been peacefully residing around the creature then start to migrate to what scientists like to call a light organ. With every entry, the number of bacteria in the light organ increases in the number and so does the concentration of signaling molecules from each cell also elevates.
Once all the bacteria that are entering the light organ hit their threshold limit, the genes (Lux operon) are induced. That is the point when all the bacterial cells collectively exhibit a phenomenon that is known as bioluminescence. In this, the ventricle side of the squid lights up and then masks it from the predators and their hungry eyes. For centuries scientists have been studying the symbiotic relationship that exists between bobtail squid as well as the luminescent bacteria that reside inside them.
Laura Sanchez, who is serving as the associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UC Sanchez, said that this symbiosis is highly elegant. “It’s exciting that there are still new things to discover, even in such a well-studied system,”
The glow from the symbiotic relationship has a downward direction and thus masks the incoming light of the moon. This strategic placement then allows the squid shadow to get masked. This symbiosis, also known as counter-illumination is what conceals the squid from downward dwelling and protects it from a number of predators.
Quorum Sensing This widely celebrated symbiotic relationship is all thanks to quorum sensing. Quorum sensing is a specialized type of intercellular signaling and means of communication that allows the bacteria to synchronize and then carry out group activities such as bioluminescence. Quorum sensing is also responsible for the formation of biofilms. This same activity is responsible for the production of pathogenicity factors which are responsible for the bacterial strains and their dangerous powers.
Biofilms are layers that are naturally present on the human body, such as they are present on the teeth. Several microorganisms such as P aeruginosa can get in touch with a number of surfaces and lead to the development of biofilms. Biofilms, as discussed above, are a result of the complex architecture of diverse microflora that is equal parts resistant and resilient. Quorum sensing is the reason behind it all. It improves the ability to communicate as well as make sure that they engage in social behaviors. This magical property also helps them with the colonizing surfaces. The high cell densities feature of biofilm leads to the promotion of even spread of plasmids coding for antimicrobial resistance.
When P. aeruginosa forms the biofilms, it becomes impossible for immune systems to cater to it, which is how they get antibacterial resistance. So when surgeries happen, the surfaces become infected with this bacteria.
Future prospectsIn the future, scientists are thriving to formulate a possible combination of traditional microbes as well as novel inhibitor drugs that will then aid in therapeutic usage. This will also tend to the issue of antibiotic resistance. But for the time being, let us hail Hawaiian bacteria and their incredible relationship with bacteria which allows them to talk to one another.
Emily. (2022). Putting microbial interactions back into community contexts. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1369527421001442 Sharma, P. (2021, December). Role and significance of biofilm-forming microbes in phytoremediation—A review. 10.
Nida Riaz is a freelance blogger based in Pakistan. She started writing about her passion for the environment when the world came to a stop in early 2020.