Selenium and tellurium are two metalloids essential for future green energy technologies due to their associated photovoltaic and photoconductive properties. In addition, selenium and tellurium oxyanions can be toxic in the environment and can potentially affect human health. This work aims to examine some geochemical influences on Se/Te reduction carried out by selected yeast strains to identify what limitations there are to the process, and their importance. Several yeast strains, capable of selenite or tellurite reduction, were isolated from environmental soil samples on solid media containing selenite or tellurite, reduction being detected by the colour change of colonies to red (Se) or black (Te). Such reduction resulted in the formation of nanoparticles of elemental Se0 or Te0. Growth was assessed in the presence of selenite or tellurite and minimum inhibitory concentrations determined. Rates of selenite and tellurite depletion were determined in different growth conditions and the production of elemental Se0 or Te0 was analysed using energy dispersion X-ray analysis (EDXA), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). This work furthers understanding of selenium and tellurium transformation by yeasts also suggests potential routes for Se/Te biorecovery by the formation of Se/Te nanoparticles.

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