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Mineral-microbe interaction is a broad, rather poorly understood field of science. Some aspects of mineral-microbe interactions are relatively well understood, e.g. the oxidation of pyrite and the industrial bioleaching of metals. However, other aspects of mineral-microbe interactions are less well understood, e.g. the significance of microbial weathering of silicate minerals. The field encompasses many interactions in addition to those considered in this short collection of papers. For example, the field encompasses bacterial control on biologicallyinduced mineralization of magnetic iron minerals (Bazylinski and Moskowitz, 1997), effects of clay colloids as a physical substrate for growth and adhesion of microbes (Stotzky, 1986) and the orientation of clay platelets surrounding bacteria. The papers presented here are largely restricted to one area of this broad field, that of mineral transformations mediated by microbes. This area is where much of the current research effort is being directed and advances in our understanding of mineral-microbe interactions are being made.

We live on (or, more properly, are a part of) a biologically-mediated planet. It is now well known that the actions of biological organisms are largely responsible for the precise balance of gases in the Earth ’s atmosphere that makes life possible. However, there is a tendency for geologists and mineralogists to think within the paradigm of physical and chemical factors only and to neglect biological factors. Whilst this may be justified for processes at very elevated T and/or P it is not likely to be justified for processes at surface or near-surface PT coditions.

When describing the weathering of igneous minerals to form either sedimentary rocks or soil, many textbooks list chemical and physical processes as primary factors and biological processes as an additional, relatively minor factor.

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