Researchers have shown that a known antibiotic and antifungal compound produced by a soil microbe can inhibit another species of microbe from forming biofilms--microbial mats that frequently are medically harmful--without killing that microbe. The findings may apply to other microbial species, and can herald a plethora of scientific and societal benefits. Many microbes produce antibiotics and antifungals, presumably to compete with other microbes. DAPG also blocked spore formation. Biofilms also interfere with industrial processes, for example, by clogging, or corroding pipes, and by instigating corrosion on ships' hulls. The research may lead to a variety of potential benefits. Both of the bacteria from this study are associated with plant roots, and understanding their interactions using DAPG and other secreted compounds could be important for creating healthy microbial soil communities for plants to grow in, possibly boosting agricultural yields, said Shank. DAPG, or the DAPG-producing P. Protogens as a protobiotic, could be used to inhibit formation of harmful biofilms. Additionally, the experimental approach could be used to discover other, potentially medically important biofilm-inhibiting bacterial, said Shank. While the more powerful signals produced by many bacteria are well-known, the territory of subtle signals remains poorly mapped, but the results of these early efforts suggest that the importance of such signals may be out of proportion to their relatively subtle modus operandi.