Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 100, Issue 6, pp 2555–2566 | Cite as

Biogenic selenium nanoparticles: current status and future prospects

  • Sweety A. Wadhwani
  • Utkarsha U. Shedbalkar
  • Richa Singh
  • Balu A. ChopadeEmail author


Selenium nanoparticles (SeNPs) are gaining importance in the field of medicine owing to their antibacterial and anticancer properties. SeNPs are biocompatible and non-toxic compared to the counterparts, selenite (SeO3 −2) and selenate (SeO4 −2). They can be synthesized by physical, chemical, and biological methods and have distinct bright orange-red color. Biogenic SeNPs are stable and do not aggregate owing to natural coating of the biomolecules. Various hypotheses have been proposed to describe the mechanism of microbial synthesis of SeNPs. It is primarily a two-step reduction process from SeO4 −2 to SeO3 −2 to insoluble elemental selenium (Se0) catalyzed by selenate and selenite reductases. Phenazine-1-carboxylic acid and glutathione are involved in selenite reduction. Se factor A (SefA) and metalloid reductase Rar A present on the surface of SeNPs confer stability to the nanoparticles. SeNPs act as potent chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agents. Conjugation with antibiotics enhances their anticancer efficacy. These also have applications in nanobiosensors and environmental remediation.


Selenium nanoparticles Selenate reduction Mechanism Antibacterial activity Anticancer 



SAW and RS acknowledge University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi, India, for awarding research fellowship. UUS is thankful to UGC, New Delhi, for awarding UGC-D.S. Kothari Post Doctoral Fellowship.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sweety A. Wadhwani
    • 1
  • Utkarsha U. Shedbalkar
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richa Singh
    • 1
  • Balu A. Chopade
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of MicrobiologySavitribai Phule Pune UniversityPuneIndia
  2. 2.Department of BiochemistryThe Institute of ScienceMumbaiIndia
  3. 3.Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada UniversityAurangabadIndia

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