Bacillus subtilis causes dissolution of ceria nanoparticles at the nano-bio interface

Changjian Xie, Junzhe Zhang, Yuhui Ma, Yayun Ding, Peng Zhang, Lirong Zheng, Zhifang Chai, Yuliang Zhao, Zhiyong Zhang, Xiao He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The cytotoxicity of ceria nanoparticles (NPs) against microorganisms was identified as a particle-specific toxicity in previous work since no release of Ce 3+ ions was evident. Although the literature has demonstrated a reduction of ceria NPs after their interaction with bacteria, it remains unknown whether the reduction is followed by a release of Ce 3+ ions from the particle surface. The present work aims to study whether there is dissolution of ceria NPs at the nano-bio interface and evaluate the possible ionic toxicity against bacteria. Our results suggest that rod-like ceria NPs could be reduced by Bacillus subtilis under planktonic conditions, then the Ce 3+ ions adjacent to the surface oxygen vacancies would be chelated by the adsorption sites on the bacterial cell wall and extracted from the particles. The biosorption of the dissolved Ce 3+ ions by bacteria is further confirmed by the Ce 3+ desorption after the protonation of carboxyl groups on the cell wall. Therefore, we demonstrate for the first time the dissolution of ceria NPs at the bacterial surface as a result of the nano-bio interaction. These findings together reveal a combined mechanism for the toxicity of ceria NPs: particle-related delivery of Ce to the bacterial surface and ion-related toxicity following the dissolution. This insight would benefit our understanding of the mechanism underlying the cytotoxicity of ceria NPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-223
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science: Nano
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science(all)


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