Biological synthesis of fluorescent nanoparticles by cadmium and tellurite resistant Antarctic bacteria: Exploring novel natural nanofactories

D. O. Plaza, C. Gallardo, Y. D. Straub, D. Bravo, J. M. Pérez-Donoso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Fluorescent nanoparticles or quantum dots (QDs) have been intensely studied for basic and applied research due to their unique size-dependent properties. There is an increasing interest in developing ecofriendly methods to synthesize these nanoparticles since they improve biocompatibility and avoid the generation of toxic byproducts. The use of biological systems, particularly prokaryotes, has emerged as a promising alternative. Recent studies indicate that QDs biosynthesis is related to factors such as cellular redox status and antioxidant defenses. Based on this, the mixture of extreme conditions of Antarctica would allow the development of natural QDs producing bacteria. Results: In this study we isolated and characterized cadmium and tellurite resistant Antarctic bacteria capable of synthesizing CdS and CdTe QDs when exposed to these oxidizing heavy metals. A time dependent change in fluorescence emission color, moving from green to red, was determined on bacterial cells exposed to metals. Biosynthesis was observed in cells grown at different temperatures and high metal concentrations. Electron microscopy analysis of treated cells revealed nanometric electron-dense elements and structures resembling membrane vesicles mostly associated to periplasmic space. Purified biosynthesized QDs displayed broad absorption and emission spectra characteristic of biogenic Cd nanoparticles. Conclusions: Our work presents a novel and simple biological approach to produce QDs at room temperature by using heavy metal resistant Antarctic bacteria, highlighting the unique properties of these microorganisms as potent natural producers of nano-scale materials and promising candidates for bioremediation purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number76
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2016


  • Antarctica
  • Bacteria
  • Fluorescent nanoparticles
  • Green synthesis
  • Heavy metals
  • Quantum dots

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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