Nanomaterial–microbe cross-talk: physicochemical principles and (patho)biological consequences
The applications of nanoparticles (NPs) are increasing exponentially in consumer products, biotechnology and biomedicine, and humans, as well as the environment, are increasingly being exposed to NPs. Analogously, various (pathogenic) microorganisms are present at all the major exposure and entry sites for NPs in the human body as well as in environmental habitats. However, the field has just started to explore the complex interplay between NPs and microbes and the (patho)biological consequences. Based on recent insights, herein, we critically reviewed the available knowledge about the interaction of NPs with microbes and the analytical investigations including the latest intravital imaging tools. We have commented on how the NPs’ characteristics influence complex formation with microorganisms, presented the underlying physicochemical forces, and provided examples of how this knowledge can be used to rationally control the NP–microbe interaction. We concluded by discussing the role of the biomolecule corona in NP–microbe crosstalk and speculated the impact of NP–microbe complex formation on the (patho)biological outcome and fate of microbial pathogens. The presented insights will not only support the field in engineering NPs with improved anti-microbial activity but also stimulate research on the biomedical and toxicological relevance of nanomaterial–microbiome complex formation for the anthropocene in general.