Cobalt Release from a Nanoscale Multiphase Lithiated Cobalt Phosphate Dominates Interaction with Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 and Bacillus subtilis SB491

Peter L. Clement, Joshua E. Kuether, Jaya R. Borgatta, Joseph T. Buchman, Meghan S. Cahill, Tian A. Qiu, Robert J. Hamers, Z. Vivian Feng, Christy L. Haynes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Cobalt phosphate engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are an important class of materials that are used as lithium ion battery cathodes, catalysts, and potentially as super capacitors. As production of these nanomaterials increases, so does the likelihood of their environmental release; however, to date, there are relatively few investigations of the impact of nanoscale metal phosphates on biological systems. Furthermore, nanomaterials used in commercial applications are often multiphase materials, and analysis of the toxic potential of mixtures of nanomaterials has been rare. In this work, we studied the interactions of two model environmental bacteria, Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 and Bacillus subtilis, with a multiphase lithiated cobalt phosphate (mLCP) nanomaterial. Using a growth-based viability assay, we found that mLCP was toxic to both bacteria used in this study. To understand the observed toxicity, we screened for production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and release of Co2+ from mLCP using three abiotic fluorophores. We also used Newport Green DCF dye to show that cobalt was taken up by the bacteria after mLCP exposure. Using transmission electron microscopy, we noted that the mLCP was not associated with the bacterial cell surface. In order for us to further probe the mechanism of interaction of mLCP, the bacteria were exposed to an equivalent dose of cobalt ions that dissolved from mLCP, which recapitulated the changes in viability when the bacteria were exposed to mLCP, and it also recapitulated the observed bacterial uptake of cobalt. Taken together, this implicates the release of cobalt ions and their subsequent uptake by the bacteria as the major toxicity mechanism of mLCP. The properties of the ENM govern the release rate of cobalt, but the toxicity does not arise from nanospecific effects-and importantly, the chemical composition of the ENM may dictate the oxidation state of the metal centers and thus limit ROS production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)806-816
Number of pages11
JournalChemical research in toxicology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 16 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology CHE-1503408. The Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology is part of the Centers for Chemical Innovation Program. J.T.B. gratefully acknowledges support from a National Science Foundation GRFP (Grant no. 00039202). We thank Fang Zhou for microtome sectioning of the resin-embedded bacteria samples for TEM analysis. Transmission electron microscopy imaging was carried out in the Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from the NSF through the MRSEC program. We thank Elizabeth Lundstrom for performing ICP-OES and ICP-MS analysis as part of the University of Minnesota Earth Sciences department. We thank Thomas Pho of Augsburg University for fluorescence and brightfield microscopy of NPG DCF-loaded bacteria.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Chemical Society.

MRSEC Support

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PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.


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