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Reduction of selenite to Se(0) nanoparticles by filamentous bacterium Streptomyces sp. ES2‑5 isolated from a selenium mining soil

Yuanqing Tan†, Rong Yao†, Rui Wang, Dan Wang, Gejiao Wang and Shixue Zheng*

Abstract
Background: Selenium (Se) is an essential trace element in living systems. Microorganisms play a pivotal role in the selenium cycle both in life and in environment. Different bacterial strains are able to reduce Se(IV) (selenite) and (or) Se(VI) (selenate) to less toxic Se(0) with the formation of Se nanoparticles(SeNPs). The biogenic SeNPs have exhibited promising application prospects in medicine, biosensors and environmental remediation. These microorganisms might be explored as potential biofactories for synthesis of metal(loid) nanoparticles.
Results: A strictly aerobic, branched actinomycete strain, ES2-5, was isolated from a selenium mining soil in southwest China, identified as Streptomyces sp. based on 16S rRNA gene sequence, physiologic and morphologic characteristics. Both SEM and TEM-EDX analysis showed that Se(IV) was reduced to Se(0) with the formation of SeNPs as a linear chain in the cytoplasm. The sizes of the SeNPs were in the range of 50–500 nm. The cellular concentration of glutathione per biomass decreased along with Se(IV) reduction, and no SeNPs were observed in different sub-cellular fractions in presence of NADPH or NADH as an electron donor, indicating glutathione is most possibly involved in vivo Se(IV) reduction. Strain ES2-5 was resistant to some heavy metal(loid)s such as Se(IV), Cr(VI) and Zn(II) with minimal inhibitory concentration of 50, 80 and 1.5 mM, respectively.
Conclusions: The reducing mechanism of Se(IV) to elemental SeNPs under aerobic condition was investigated in a filamentous strain of Streptomyces. Se(IV) reduction is mediated by glutathione and then SeNPs synthesis happens inside of the cells. The SeNPs are released via hypha lysis or fragmentation. It would be very useful in Se bioremediation if Streptomyces sp. ES2-5 is applied to the contaminated site because of its ability of spore reproduction, Se(IV) reduction, and adaptation in soil.



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