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Simulations to Aid in the Design of Microbes for Synthesis of Metallic Nanomaterials

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journal contribution
posted on 22.11.2021, 21:10 by Kyle L. Naughton, James Q. Boedicker
Microbes are champions of nanomaterial synthesis. By virtue of their incredible native rangefrom thermal vents to radioactive soilmicrobes evolved tools to thrive on inorganic material, and, in their normal course of living, forge nanomaterials. In recent decades, synthetic biologists have engineered a vast array of functional nanomaterials using genetic tools that control the natural ability of bacteria to perform complex redox chemistry, maintain steep chemical gradients, and express biomolecular scaffolds. Leveraging microbial biology can lead to intricate nanomaterial architectures whose design and assembly exists beyond the ken of inorganic methods. Theories enumerating microbial nanomaterial synthesis are spare, however, despite the advantage they could offer. Here, we describe a theoretical approach to simulating biogenic nanomaterial synthesis that incorporates key features and parameters of Gram-negative bacteria. By adapting previously verified inorganic theories of nanoparticle synthesis, we recapitulate past biogenic experiments, such as the ability to localize nanoparticle synthesis or regulate nucleation of specific nanomaterials. Moreover, the simulation offers direction in the design of future experiments. Our results demonstrate the promise of marrying experimental and theoretical approaches to microbial nanomaterial synthesis.