Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 107, Issue 1, pp 1–6 | Cite as

Localization of selenium in bacterial cells using TEM and energy dispersive X-ray analysis

  • B. A. Silverberg
  • P. T. S. Wong
  • Y. K. Chau


Bacteria isolated from lake sediment samples reduced sodium selenite to elemental selenium. Finestructural observations were made on a number of different bacterial species cultured in the presence of sodium selenite. Examination of Escherichia coli and a Pseudomonas species revealed electron-dense deposits of irregular shape, composed of smaller units, within the cytoplasm but not on the cell wall and cell membrane. Cells of Aeromonas and Flavobacterium species exhibited conspicuous intranuclear fibrillary aggregates and different electron-dense inclusions. It appeared that the membrane structures were somewhat more easily stained in some bacterial cells after growth on agar plates containing sodium selenite. The deposits and fibrillary accumulations were interpreted to contain selenium on the basis of energy dispersive X-ray analysis. Control preparations and cells grown in the presence of sodium selenate were void of any fine-structural abnormalities. Alterations in fine structure are discussed in relation to the metabolism of selenium by bacterial cells and possible sites of inhibition.

Key words

Selenium Bacteria Intracellular deposits Intranuclear fibrillary aggregates TEM X-ray microanalysis 



transmission electron microscopy


energy dispersive X-ray


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. A. Silverberg
    • 1
  • P. T. S. Wong
    • 1
  • Y. K. Chau
    • 1
  1. 1.Electron Microscopy Laboratory, Applied Research DivisionCanada Centre for Inland WatersBurlingtonCanada

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