Microbial reduction of selenium (Se) oxyanions to elemental Se is a promising technology for bioremediation and treatment of Se wastewaters. But a fraction of biogenic nano-Selenium (nano-Seb) formed in bioreactors remains suspended in the treated waters, thus entering the aquatic environment. The present study investigated the toxicity of nano-Seb formed by anaerobic granular sludge biofilms on zebrafish embryos in comparison with selenite and chemogenic nano-Se (nano-Sec). The nano-Seb formed by granular sludge biofilms showed a LC50 value of 1.77 mg/L, which was 3.2-fold less toxic to zebrafish embryos than selenite (LC50 = 0.55 mg/L) and 10-fold less toxic than bovine serum albumin stabilized nano-Sec (LC50 = 0.16 mg/L). Smaller (nano-Secs; particle diameter range: 25-80 nm) and larger (nano-Secl; particle diameter range: 50-250 nm) sized chemically synthesized nano-Sec particles showed comparable toxicity on zebrafish embryos. The lower toxicity of nano-Seb in comparison with nano-Sec was analyzed in terms of the stabilizing organic layer. The results confirmed that the organic layer extracted from the nano-Seb consisted of components of the extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) matrix, which govern the physiochemical stability and surface properties like ζ-potential of nano-Seb. Based on the data, it is contented that the presence of humic acid like substances of EPS on the surface of nano-Seb plays a major role in lowering the bioavailability (uptake) and toxicity of nano-Seb by decreasing the interactions between nanoparticles and embryos.
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