The metal-reducing bacteria Geobacter sulfurreducens, Shewanella oneidensis and Veillonella atypica, use different mechanisms to transform toxic, bioavailable sodium selenite to less toxic, non-mobile elemental selenium and then to selenide in anaerobic environments, offering the potential for in situ and ex situ bioremediation of contaminated soils, sediments, industrial effluents, and agricultural drainage waters. The products of these reductive transformations depend on both the organism involved and the reduction conditions employed, in terms of electron donor and exogenous extracellular redox mediator. The intermediary phase involves the precipitation of elemental selenium nanospheres and the potential role of proteins in the formation of these structures is discussed. The bionanomineral phases produced during these transformations, including both elemental selenium nanospheres and metal selenide nanoparticles, have catalytic, semiconducting and light-emitting properties, which may have unique applications in the realm of nanophotonics. This research offers the potential to combine remediation of contaminants with the development of environmentally friendly manufacturing pathways for novel bionanominerals. ?? 2009 Taylor & Francis.