A Soil-Inspired Dynamically Responsive Chemical System for Microbial Modulation

Nature Chemistry 2023


Interactions between the microbiota and their colonized environments mediate critical pathways from biogeochemical cycles to homeostasis in human health. Here we report a soil-inspired chemical system that consists of nanostructured minerals, starch granules and liquid metals. Fabricated via a bottom-up synthesis, the soil-inspired chemical system can enable chemical redistribution and modulation of microbial communities. We characterize the composite, confirming its structural similarity to the soil, with three-dimensional X-ray fluorescence and ptychographic tomography and electron microscopy imaging. We also demonstrate that post-synthetic modifications formed by laser irradiation led to chemical heterogeneities from the atomic to the macroscopic level. The soil-inspired material possesses chemical, optical and mechanical responsiveness to yield write–erase functions in electrical performance. The composite can also enhance microbial culture/biofilm growth and biofuel production in vitro. Finally, we show that the soil-inspired system enriches gut bacteria diversity, rectifies tetracycline-induced gut microbiome dysbiosis and ameliorates dextran sulfate sodium-induced rodent colitis symptoms within in vivo rodent models.

Nature Chemistry
Yiliang Lin
Yiliang Lin
Assistant Professor in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

My research interests include soft matter engineering, wearable electronics, biointerfaces and living materials.