Nanomaterials are increasingly being used in new products and devices with a great impact on different fields from sensoristics to biomedicine. Biosynthesis of nanomaterials by microorganisms is recently attracting interest as a new, exciting approach towards the development of ‘greener’ nanomanufacturing compared to traditional chemical and physical approaches. This review provides an insight about microbial biosynthesis of nanomaterials by bacteria, yeast, molds, and microalgae for the manufacturing of sensoristic devices and therapeutic/diagnostic applications. The last ten-year literature was selected, focusing on scientific works where aspects like biosynthesis features, characterization, and applications have been described. The knowledge, challenges, and potentiality of microbial-mediated biosynthesis was also described. Bacteria and microalgae are the main microorganism used for nanobiosynthesis, principally for biomedical applications. Some bacteria and microalgae have showed the ability to synthetize unique nanostructures: bacterial nanocellulose, exopolysaccharides, bacterial nanowires, and biomineralized nanoscale materials (magnetosomes, frustules, and coccoliths). Yeasts and molds are characterized by extracellular synthesis, advantageous for possible reuse of cell cultures and reduced purification processes of nanomaterials. The intrinsic variability of the microbiological systems requires a greater protocols standardization to obtain nanomaterials with increasingly uniform and reproducible chemical-physical characteristics. A deeper knowledge about biosynthetic pathways and the opportunities from genetic engineering are stimulating the research towards a breakthrough development of microbial-based nanosynthesis for the future scaling-up and possible industrial exploitation of these promising ‘nanofactories’.
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