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Nanoparticles formed from bacterial oxyanion reduction of toxic Group 15 and 16 metalloids

January 1, 2011

This chapter presents some examples of nanoparticles formed by only a few microbial species that are cultivated in only a handful of laboratories worldwide. The investigations so far have just scratched the surface of the potential of the natural world to yield bionanomineral producers. While future research should involve screening surveys of the prokaryotes for this biomineralizing phenomenon, more detailed investigations are justified. The chapter discusses microbial Interaction with Group 15 and 16 Toxic Metalloids. The toxicity of the metalloids Se, Te, and As is due to the disruption of thiol intracellular biochemistry through the formation of stable, long-lived sulfur complexes. Selenium oxyanion reduction occurs in a wide range of microbes, including representatives of the Wolinella, Pseudomonas, Sulfurospirillum, Enterobacter, Thaurea, Bacillus, Shewanella, and Citrobacter genera. Technological applications of Se(0) and Te(0) nanoparticles include their use in photocopiers, microelectronic circuits, and solar cells as a result of their photo-optical and semiconducting physical properties. Nonetheless, once novel Se, Te, and As bionanoparticles are identified as having significant technical applications, applied research into their practical commercial production will without doubt ensue rapidly.

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