It has become a concern that increasing applications of fullerene (C60) particles for industrial and, in particular, medical practices can pose potential risks to the ecosystem because of their excellent ability for electron uptake and reactivity in living organisms. In the present study, the authors explored the molecular interactions between bacterial cells and C60 nanoparticles (nano-C60 aggregates and fullerenol) and their impact on biochemical activities of Zymomonas mobilis in a fermentation system. Experimental results showed that fullerenol demonstrated a considerable impact on cell damage and biochemical performance. The ethanol-producing Z. mobilis reacted with the C60 species and performed less ethanol production, while producing more organic acids. Microscopic observations indicated that the interactions between the bacterial cells and the fullerenols could damage cell membranes and remove cell compartments by vesicle exocytosis. The present study indicated that the exposure of C60 species can lead to microbial–nanoparticle interaction and a variation of metabolism. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2012;31:712–716. © 2012 SETAC
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