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Interaction of CdSe/CdS core-shell quantum dots and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Deborah M. Aruguete A D , Jeremy S. Guest B , William W. Yu C , Nancy G. Love B and Michael F. Hochella Jr. A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Center for NanoBioEarth, Department of Geosciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.

B Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.

C Department of Chemistry, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA 01609, USA.

D Corresponding author. Email: aruguete@vt.edu

Environmental Chemistry 7(1) 28-35 https://doi.org/10.1071/EN09106
Submitted: 24 August 2009  Accepted: 19 January 2010   Published: 22 February 2010

Environmental context. The growing use of nanotechnology means that nanomaterials are likely to be released into the environment, and their impact upon microbes, which form the biological foundation of all ecosystems, remains unclear. To understand how nanomaterials might affect bacteria in the environment, the interactions between a commercially-relevant quantum dot and a common soil and water bacterium was investigated. In this case, it was found that these quantum dots are non-toxic to these bacteria, and also that these bacteria do not cause degradation of the quantum dots. This study also has implications related to the environmental fate of quantum dots.

Abstract. Polymer-encapsulated CdSe/CdS core-shell quantum dots, which closely model commercially-available quantum dots, were tested for toxic effects on Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The size, aggregation state, and dissolution of the quantum dots were characterised before and after exposure to bacteria. The physical association of quantum dots with bacterial cells was also examined. The quantum dots were found to have no effect upon bacterial viability. They remained chemically stable and dispersed in solution even with bacterial exposure. It is suggested that the absence of toxicity is the result of the stability of the quantum dots due to their protective polymer coatings, and their apparent lack of association with bacterial cells. The stability of the quantum dots, even in the presence of the bacteria, as well as their non-toxicity has implications for their environmental behaviour and ultimate fate.

Additional keywords: bacterial toxicity, engineered nanomaterials, inorganic nanoparticles.


Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under a Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, award 0610373, and also in part by the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency under NSF Cooperative Agreement Number EF-0830093, Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT). We thank Professor Richey Davis, William C. Miles, and Raquel Mejia for the use of the DLS and useful discussions. We also thank Professor Jeffrey Kuhn and Professor Amy Pruden for the use of various laboratory equipment and instruments. Dr James Fabiyi and Professor Chip Frazier measured the media viscosity, for which we are grateful. Claudia Brodkin kindly provided access to laboratory facilities in the Virginia Tech department of chemistry. Statistics assistance was provided by the Virginia Tech Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis.


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