Ultrasonic approach to the synthesis of the first selenium-containing derivatives of chitin and chitosan has been developed. The synthetic procedure is simple, provides high yields, does not require harsh conditions, and uses water as the reaction medium. The elaborated chitin and chitosan derivatives and their based nanoparticles are non-toxic and possess high antibacterial and antifungal activity. Their antimicrobial activity exceeds the effect of the classic antibiotics (Ampicillin and Gentamicin) and the antifungal drug Amphotericin B. The obtained selenium-containing cationic chitin and chitosan derivatives exhibit a high transfection activity and are promising gene delivery vectors. Nanoparticles of the synthesized polymers are highly efficient catalysts for the oxidation of 1-phenylethyl alcohol to acetophenone by bromine at room temperature. © 2022 Elsevier B.V.