The use of bacterial cells to produce fluorescent semiconductor nanoparticles (quantum dots, QDs) represents a green alternative with promising economic potential. In the present work, we report for the first time the biosynthesis of CdS QDs by acidophilic bacteria of the Acidithiobacillus genus. CdS QDs were obtained by exposing A. ferrooxidans, A. thiooxidans and A. caldus cells to sublethal Cd2+ concentrations in the presence of cysteine and glutathione. The fluorescence of cadmium-exposed cells moves from green to red with incubation time, a characteristic property of QDs associated with nanocrystals growth. Biosynthesized nanoparticles (NPs) display an absorption peak at 360 nm and a broad emission spectra between 450 and 650 nm when excited at 370 nm, both characteristic of CdS QDs. Average sizes of 6 and 10 nm were determined for green and red NPs, respectively. The importance of cysteine and glutathione on QDs biosynthesis in Acidithiobacillus was related with the generation of H2S. Interestingly, QDs produced by acidophilic bacteria display high tolerance to acidic pH. Absorbance and fluorescence properties of QDs was not affected at pH 2.0, a condition that totally inhibits the fluorescence of QDs produced chemically or biosynthesized by mesophilic bacteria (stable until pH 4.5–5.0). Results presented here constitute the first report of the generation of QDs with improved properties by using extremophile microorganisms.
- Acid-tolerant quantum dots
- Bioleaching bacteria
- Biosynthesis of nanoparticles
- Quantum dots
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology