High-spatial-resolution secondary ion microprobe spectrometry, synchrotron radiation-based Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, and polyacrylamide gel analysis demonstrated the intimate association of proteins with spheroidal aggregates of biogenic zinc sulfide nanocrystals, an example of extracellular biomineralization. Experiments involving synthetic zinc sulfide nanoparticles and representative amino acids indicated a driving role for cysteine in rapid nanoparticle aggregation. These findings suggest that microbially derived extracellular proteins can limit the dispersal of nanoparticulate metal-bearing phases, such as the mineral products of bioremediation, that may otherwise be transported away from their source by subsurface fluid flow.
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Extracellular proteins limit the dispersal of biogenic nanoparticles