Calcium-crosslinked alginate-encapsulated bacteria for remediating of cadmium-polluted water and production of CdS nanoparticles


Pollution with the heavy metal cadmium (Cd2+) is a global problem. Cadmium adversely affects living organisms, highlighting the need to develop new methods for removal of this pollutant from the environment. In this study, we used a novel biomaterial based on calcium-crosslinked alginate-encapsulated bacteria to precipitate Cd2+ in polluted water. Our results show that calcium-crosslinked alginate-encapsulated bacteria effectively removed Cd2+ ions from cadmium-polluted water. Approximately 100% of Cd2+ ions were removed by 10 g (wet weight) of this biomaterial when the loading concentration of Cd2+ reached 1 mM in a volume of 50 ml water. During this process, a CdS nanoparticle, showing good crystallinity in the quantum range, was simultaneously produced. To validate the activity and stability of this biomaterial, we measured cysteine desulfhydrase activity in the stored biomaterial and whether this biomaterial could be recycled. The encapsulated bacteria maintained catalytic activity for at least 2 weeks. The capsules were easily regenerated and possessed good recyclability. Our results indicated that calcium-crosslinked alginate-encapsulated bacteria are suitable for depletion of Cd2+ in polluted water and for production of CdS nanoparticles. These calcium-crosslinked alginate-encapsulated bacteria are safe for biological manipulation and can be widely used to produce CdS nanoparticles during bioremediation of Cd2+-polluted water.

Key points

• Calcium-crosslinked alginate-encapsulated bacteria can effectively precipitate Cd 2+ in water coupled with production of CdS quantum dots.

• The encapsulated bacteria maintained catalytic activity for at least 2 weeks.

• The capsules were easily regenerated and possessed good recyclability.

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Data availability

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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The research was financially supported by The National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFA0605001 and 2016YFD0800206), and the Technical Innovation Major Projects of Hubei Province (2018ABA092).

Author information




S.Z.X. and W.L.C. conceived and designed research. S.Z.X. conducted experiments and wrote the manuscript. S.Z.X. and X.S.L contributed to summarizing and analyzing the data. Q.Y.H. and W.L.C. contributed to editing and revising the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Qiaoyun Huang or Wenli Chen.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Xu, S., Luo, X., Huang, Q. et al. Calcium-crosslinked alginate-encapsulated bacteria for remediating of cadmium-polluted water and production of CdS nanoparticles. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 105, 2171–2179 (2021).

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  • Biomaterial
  • Cadmium
  • Biomineralization
  • CdS nanoparticles