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Molecular Mechanisms of Nanomaterial-Bacterial Interactions Revealed by Omics-The Role of Nanomaterial Effect Level.

  • Author(s): Mortimer, Monika
  • Wang, Ying
  • Holden, Patricia A
  • et al.

Nanotechnology is employed across a wide range of antibacterial applications in clinical settings, food, pharmaceutical and textile industries, water treatment and consumer goods. Depending on type and concentration, engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) can also benefit bacteria in myriad contexts including within the human body, in biotechnology, environmental bioremediation, wastewater treatment, and agriculture. However, to realize the full potential of nanotechnology across broad applications, it is necessary to understand conditions and mechanisms of detrimental or beneficial effects of ENMs to bacteria. To study ENM effects, bacterial population growth or viability are commonly assessed. However, such endpoints alone may be insufficiently sensitive to fully probe ENM effects on bacterial physiology. To reveal more thoroughly how bacteria respond to ENMs, molecular-level omics methods such as transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics are required. Because omics methods are increasingly utilized, a body of literature exists from which to synthesize state-of-the-art knowledge. Here we review relevant literature regarding ENM impacts on bacterial cellular pathways obtained by transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic analyses across three growth and viability effect levels: inhibitory, sub-inhibitory or stimulatory. As indicated by our analysis, a wider range of pathways are affected in bacteria at sub-inhibitory vs. inhibitory ENM effect levels, underscoring the importance of ENM exposure concentration in elucidating ENM mechanisms of action and interpreting omics results. In addition, challenges and future research directions of applying omics approaches in studying bacterial-ENM interactions are discussed.

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