Biological synthesis of nanoparticles in biofilms

Abid H. Tanzil, Sujala T. Sultana, Steven R. Saunders, Liang Shi, Enrico Marsili, Haluk Beyenal

Research output: Journal PublicationReview articlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


The biological synthesis of nanoparticles (NPs) by bacteria and biofilms via extracellular redox reactions has received attention because of the minimization of harmful chemicals, low cost, and ease of culturing and downstream processing. Bioreduction mechanisms vary across bacteria and growth conditions, which leads to various sizes and shapes of biosynthesized NPs. NP synthesis in biofilms offers additional advantages, such as higher biomass concentrations and larger surface areas, which can lead to more efficient and scalable biosynthesis. Although biofilms have been used to produce NPs, the mechanistic details of NP formation are not well understood. In this review, we identify three critical areas of research and development needed to advance our understanding of NP production by biofilms: 1) synthesis, 2) mechanism and 3) stabilization. Advancement in these areas could result in the biosynthesis of NPs that are suitable for practical applications, especially in drug delivery and biocatalysis. Specifically, the current status of methods and mechanisms of nanoparticle synthesis and surface stabilization using planktonic bacteria and biofilms is discussed. We conclude that the use of biofilms to synthesize and stabilize NPs is underappreciated and could provide a new direction in biofilm-based NP production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-12
Number of pages9
JournalEnzyme and Microbial Technology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Biofilms
  • Biological synthesis
  • Mechanism
  • Nanoparticles
  • Stabilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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