Chemical communication in Streptomyces bacteria: a study on the smell of earth

Soil emits a distinct smell. Humans but also some insects are extremely sensitive in detecting the smell of earth. Responsible for the characteristic smell are the volatile compounds geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol (MIB), primarily produced by Streptomycesbacteria.

Although Streptomyces bacteria are ubiquitous in soil, famous for producing secondary metabolites, and associated with plants, fungi and animals, the ecological meaning of their characteristic smell is unknown. Geosmin production is a conserved trait inStreptomyces species suggesting a functional value. The ecological meaning of the smell is what we want to explore as it presumably affects plants, animals and microbes.

Streptomyces bacteria have been suggested as valuable biocontrol agents. Our work will advance the knowledge on chemo-ecological interactions of Streptomyces bacteria with their environment and advance their possible application in sustainable agriculture.


Plantlink, Crafoord Foundation


Vasiliki Gkounti

External collaborators

Klas Flärdh, LU