Formation of silver nanoparticles by human gut microbiota



Publication Details

Yin, N., Gao, R., Knowles, B., Wang, J., Wang, P., Sun, G. & Cui, Y. (2019). Formation of silver nanoparticles by human gut microbiota. Science of the Total Environment, 651 (Part 1), 1489-1494.


Metal nanoparticles have received global attention and one of the most promising nanotechnologies is the use of microorganisms for synthesizing nanoparticles. The oral exposure study has demonstrated the formation of silver (Ag) nanoparticles with in vivo animal models. However, there is limitation in the effect of in vitro cultured human gut microbiota on silver. Here, the phenomenon of biosynthesis of Ag nanoparticles by human gut microbiota has been reported. The size, shape, and morphology of the nanoparticles were characterized using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Exposure to aqueous AgNO3 solution resulted in the intracellular reduction of Ag+ions and the formation of approximately spherical Ag nanoparticles with dimensions of 34 ± 10 nm. Electron microscopy analysis of the gut microbial cells by TEM images of thin sections and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), indicated that most of Ag nanoparticles were located on the cytoplasmic membrane and within the cytoplasm, where abundant silver reductases were present. In addition, some nanoparticles were bound to the cell wall, likely via exocytosis. The oral exposure to Ag+led to in vivo formation of nanoparticles by gut microbiota, and their biological effects and potential applications in human body warrant further investigation.

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