Tellurite Adsorption onto Bacterial Surfaces

Jennifer L. Goff, Yuwei Wang, Maxim I. Boyanov, Qiang Yu, Kenneth M. Kemner, Jeremy B. Fein, Nathan Yee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Tellurium (Te) is an emerging contaminant and its chemical transformation in the environment is strongly influenced by microbial processes. In this study, we investigated the adsorption of tellurite [Te(IV), TeO32-] onto the common soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Thiol-blocking experiments were carried out to investigate the role of cell surface sulfhydryl sites in tellurite binding, and extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectroscopy was performed to determine the chemical speciation of the adsorbed tellurite. The results indicate that tellurite reacts with sulfhydryl functional groups in the extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) produced by B. subtilis. Upon binding to sulfhydryl sites in the EPS, the Te changes from Te-O bonds to Te-S coordination. Further analysis of the surface-associated molecules shows that the EPS of B. subtilis contain proteins. Removal of the proteinaceous EPS dramatically decreases tellurite adsorption and the sulfhydryl surface site concentration. These findings indicate that sulfhydryl binding in EPS plays a key role in tellurite adsorption on bacterial surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10378-10386
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 3 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


  • CdTe
  • X-ray adsorption spectroscopy
  • extracellular polymeric substances
  • metalloid
  • photovoltaic
  • sulfhydryl
  • tellurium
  • toxicity


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