Episode Summary

Coating metal surfaces with artificial biofilms could help keep the surfaces corrosion-free even in the ocean!

Microbe of the episode

Microbe of the episode: Hymenopteran ambidensovirus 1

Jesse's takeaways

The ocean can be a harsh place for metal surfaces. Between the water, the salt, and oxygen (near the surface), corrosion is a common reality. Microbes in the ocean can contribute to this too, degrading metal structures to obtain energy for their metabolism. They colonize surfaces in biofilms that can be difficult to remove, a process called biofouling.

In this study, instead of trying to remove or prevent biofilms on surfaces, artificial biofilms were created by coating the surfaces and specially selected bacterial cells with polymers. This approach did not prevent colonization by other organisms in the sea, but preliminary results suggested that the community that did take up residence was not as corrosive as the communities found on uncoated steel.

Journal Paper

Rijavec T, Zrimec J, Spanning R van, Lapanje A. 2019. Natural Microbial Communities Can Be Manipulated by Artificially Constructed Biofilms. Adv Sci 6:1901408.

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