Mineral-microbe interactions: Biotechnological potential of bioweathering

Francesca Mapelli, Ramona Marasco, Annalisa Balloi, Eleonora Rolli, Francesca Cappitelli, Daniele Daffonchio, Sara Borin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Mineral-microbe interaction has been a key factor shaping the lithosphere of our planet since the Precambrian. Detailed investigation has been mainly focused on the role of bioweathering in biomining processes, leading to the selection of highly efficient microbial inoculants for the recovery of metals. Here we expand this scenario, presenting additional applications of bacteria and fungi in mineral dissolution, a process with novel biotechnological potential that has been poorly investigated. The ability of microorganisms to trigger soil formation and to sustain plant establishment and growth are suggested as invaluable tools to counteract the expansion of arid lands and to increase crop productivity. Furthermore, interesting exploitations of mineral weathering microbes are represented by biorestoration and bioremediation technologies, innovative and competitive solutions characterized by economical and environmental advantages. Overall, in the future the study and application of the metabolic properties of microbial communities capable of weathering can represent a driving force in the expanding sector of environmental biotechnology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)473-481
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biotechnology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 20 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was financially supported by the FIRB project n° RBIN047MBH “Strategy to improve crop productivity under water stress” of the Italian Ministry of University and Research (MIUR) , the European Union in the ambit of project BIODESERT (European Community's Seventh Framework Programme CSA-SA REGPOT-2008-2 under grant agreement no. 245746) and the BIOGESTECA project n° 15083/RCC “Fondo per la promozione di accordi istituzionali” funded by Regione Lombardia . E. Rolli was supported by Università degli Studi di Milano, European Social Found (FSE) and Regione Lombardia (contract “Dote Ricerca”)


  • Biomining
  • Bioremediation
  • Biorestoration
  • Mineral weathering
  • Plant growth promotion
  • Soil genesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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