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Properties of metal solution, environmental conditions and the type of biomaterials (microorganism genus, species or even strain) influence the mechanism of metal biosorption and consequently metal adsorption capacity, affinity and specificity. Cell surface properties determine the metal-microorganism interactions to a large extent. In this work the relationship between yeast surface properties and yeast’s ability to bind cadmium, lead and copper was studied. Surface charge and hydrophobicity before and after biosorption were determined using dye retention and solvent partition assays, respectively. There were differences in the surface charge and relative hydrophobicity among different yeast strains. A higher metal adsorption capacity for more negatively charged yeast cells was observed. Biosorption of heavy metals resulted in modifications to the surface charge and hydrophobicity of yeast cells. However, there were not statistically significant changes in the yeast surface charge and hydrophobicity after binding of heavy metals depending on the nature of the metal, initial metal concentration and solution pH.
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