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Effects of Soluble Cadmium Salts Versus CdSe Quantum Dots on the Growth of Planktonic Pseudomonas aeruginosa

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journal contribution
posted on 01.04.2009, 00:00 by John H. Priester, Peter K. Stoimenov, Randall E. Mielke, Samuel M. Webb, Christopher Ehrhardt, Jin Ping Zhang, Galen D. Stucky, Patricia A. Holden
With their increased use, engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) will enter the environment where they may be altered by bacteria and affect bacterial processes. Metallic ENMs, such as CdSe quantum dots (QDs), are toxic due to the release of dissolved heavy metals, but the effects of cadmium ions versus intact QDs are mostly unknown. Here, planktonic Pseudomonas aeruginosa PG201 bacteria were cultured with similar total cadmium concentrations as either fully dissolved cadmium acetate (Cd(CH3COO)2) or ligand capped CdSe QDs, and cellular morphology, growth parameters, intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), along with the metal and metalloid fates were measured. QDs dissolved partially in growth media, but dissolution was less in biotic cultures compared to sterile controls. Dose-dependent growth effects were similar for low concentrations of either cadmium salts or QDs, but effects differed above a concentration threshold of 50 mg/L (total cadmium basis) where (1) the growth of QD-treated cells was more impaired, (2) the membranes of QD-grown cells were damaged, and (3) QD-grown cells contained QD-sized CdSe cytoplasmic inclusions in addition to Se0 and dissolved cadmium. For most concentrations, intracellular ROS were higher for QD- versus cadmium salts-grown bacteria. Taken together, QDs were more toxic to this opportunistic pathogen than cadmium ions, and were affected by cells through QD extracellular stabilization, intracellular enrichment, and cell-associated decay.