Bacteria are frequently used in industrial processes and nutrient supplementation to restore a healthy human microflora, but use of live bacteria is often troublesome. Here, we hypothesize that bacterially-derived carbon-quantum-dots obtained through pyrolytic carbonization inherit physico-chemical properties from probiotic and pathogenic source-bacteria. Carbon-quantum-dots carbonized at reaction-temperatures below 200 °C had negligible quantum-yields, while temperatures above 220 °C yielded poor water-suspendability. Fourier-transform infrared-spectroscopy demonstrated preservation of amide absorption bands in carbon-quantum-dots derived at intermediate temperatures. X-ray photoelectron-spectroscopy indicated that the at%N in carbon-quantum-dots increased with increasing amounts of protein in source-bacterial surfaces. Carbonization transformed hydrocarbon-like bacterial surface compounds into heterocyclic aromatic-carbon structures, evidenced by a broad infrared absorption band (920-900 cm−1) and the presence of carbon in C–C functionalities of carbon-quantum-dots. The chemical composition of bacterially-derived carbon-quantum-dots could be explained by the degradation temperatures of main bacterial cell surface compounds. All carbon-quantum-dots generated reactive-oxygen-species, most notably those derived from probiotic lactobacilli, carrying a high amount of surface protein. Concluding, amide functionalities in carbon-quantum-dots are inherited from surface proteins of source-bacteria, controlling reactive-oxygen-species generation. This paves the way for applications of bacterially-derived carbon-quantum-dots in which reactive-oxygen-species generation is essential, instead of hard-to-use live bacteria, such as in food supplementation or probiotic-assisted antibiotic therapy.
- Pathogenic bacteria
- Probiotic bacteria
- Reactive oxygen species
- X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy