Magnetotactic bacteria synthesize intracellular magnetosomes comprising membrane-enveloped magnetite crystals within the cell which can be manipulated by a magnetic field. Here, we report the first example of tellurium uptake and crystallization within a magnetotactic bacterial strain, Magnetospirillum magneticum AMB-1. These bacteria independently crystallize tellurium and magnetite within the cell. This is also highly significant as tellurite (TeO3 2-), an oxyanion of tellurium, is harmful to both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Additionally, due to its increasing use in high-technology products, tellurium is very precious and commercially desirable. The use of microorganisms to recover such molecules from polluted water has been considered as a promising bioremediation technique. However, cell recovery is a bottleneck in the development of this approach. Recently, using the magnetic property of magnetotactic bacteria and a cell surface modification technology, the magnetic recovery of Cd2+ adsorbed onto the cell surface was reported. Crystallization within the cell enables approximately 70 times more bioaccumulation of the pollutant per cell than cell surface adsorption, while utilizing successful recovery with a magnetic field. This fascinating dual crystallization of magnetite and tellurium by magnetotactic bacteria presents an ideal system for both bioremediation and magnetic recovery of tellurite.
ASJC Scopus subject areas