Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 2, pp 973–980 | Cite as

Synthesis of CdS1-XSeX quantum dots in a protozoa Tetrahymena pyriformis

  • Yin-Hua Cui
  • Ling-Li Li
  • Li-Jiao Tian
  • Nan-Qing Zhou
  • Dong-Feng LiuEmail author
  • Paul K. S. Lam
  • Han-Qing Yu
Environmental biotechnology


Quantum dots (QDs) are recognized as the excellent fluorescence and photochemical materials to be applied in bioimaging, biomedical, and solar cell fields. Biosynthesized QDs (bio-QDs) have attracted attention due to their simple, eco-friendly, and excellent biocompatible traits. Moreover, bio-QDs could not be replaced by chemically fabricated QDs in many fields. Bio-QDs synthesized by different microorganisms have diverse characteristics. In this work, the biosynthesis of QDs by Tetrahymena pyriformis, a typical protozoa in aquatic environments, was achieved for the first time. The synthesized materials by T. pyriformis emitted yellow fluorescence and had an average diameter of 8.27 ± 0.77 nm. Spectral characterization results demonstrated that the synthesized QDs were CdS1-XSeX. Meanwhile, the fluorescence intensities of the synthesized bio-QDs showed a linear relationship with Cd2+ dosage ranging from 20 to 80 μM. The fluorescence enhancement of the synthesized QDs was highly selective to Cd2+ compared to other metal ions. The bio-QDs were demonstrated to have a great potential to be applied for Cd2+ detection. This work provides valuable information about the transformation of heavy metal ions in protozoan and is useful to accelerate the applications of the synthesized QDs.


Quantum dots Bio-QDs CdS1-XSeX Tetrahymena pyriformis Cd2+ detection 



The staff members of 4W1B beamline of Beijing Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences and BL14W1 beamline of Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility, China are acknowledged for their supports in measurements and data handling. Prof. Wei Miao from the Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, is acknowledged for his kind provision of T. pyriformis.

Funding information

The authors received financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21477120, 21590812, 51538012, 21607146 and 51878638), the Open Project of State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and Environment, Harbin Institute of Technology (HC201624), the Open Project of State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse, Nanjing University (PCRRF17024), Scientific Research Grant of Hefei National Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (UN2017LHJJ), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (WK2060190087).

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory of Urban Pollutant Conversion, Department of Applied ChemistryUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina
  2. 2.USTC-CityU Joint Advanced Research CenterSuzhouChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory in Marine Pollution, Department of Biology and ChemistryCity University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  4. 4.National Synchrotron Radiation LaboratoryUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina

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