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Trends Microbiol. 2009 Aug;17(8):378-87. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2009.05.004. Epub 2009 Aug 5.

Mineral weathering by bacteria: ecology, actors and mechanisms.

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Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), Nancy Université, UMR 1136 Interactions Arbres Micro-organismes, Centre INRA de Nancy, 54280 Champenoux, France.


Soil microbes play an essential role in the environment by contributing to the release of key nutrients from primary minerals that are required not only for their own nutrition but also for that of plants. Although the role of fungi in mineral weathering is beginning to be elucidated, the relative impact of bacteria in this process and the molecular mechanisms involved remain poorly understood. Here, we discuss the ecological relevance of bacterial weathering, mainly in the soil and especially in acidic forest ecosystems, which strongly depend on mineral weathering for their sustainability. We also present highlights from recent studies showing molecular mechanisms and genetic determinants involved in the dissolution of complex minerals under aerobic conditions. Finally, we consider the potential applications of genomic resources to the study of bacterial weathering.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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