Adaptive interactions between zinc oxide nanoparticles and chlorella sp.

Pengyu Chen, Brian A Powell, Monika Mortimer, Pu Chun Ke

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93 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of ZnO nanoparticles (NPs) interacting with single-celled green algae, Chlorella sp., have been found to be bilateral. Specifically, our electron microscopy, plant cell, and fluorescence assays showed that the adsorption and aggregation of ZnO NPs compromised algal cell morphology, viability, and membrane integrity, resulting from zinc ion dissolution as well as possible mechanical cell damage induced by the NPs. Conversely, algal cells displayed a remarkable capability of self-protection by minimizing their surface area through aggregation mediated by the oppositely charged metal ions and suppressing zinc ion release from the NPs through exudation, as evidenced by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, zeta potential, and attenuated total reflectance-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. This study illustrates the adaptive nature and complexity in potential ecological response to discharged nanomaterials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12178-12185
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes

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