Silver nanoparticles disrupt wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) growth in a sand matrix

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Environmental Science and Technology





Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



Hydroponic plant growth studies indicate that silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) are phytotoxic. In this work, the phytotoxicity of commercial Ag NPs (10 nm) was evaluated in a sand growth matrix. Both NPs and soluble Ag were recovered from water extracts of the sand after growth of plants challenged with the commercial product; the surface charge of the Ag NPs in this extract was slightly reduced compared to the stock NPs. The Ag NPs reduced the length of shoots and roots of wheat in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, 2.5 mg/kg of the NPs increased branching in the roots of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), thereby affecting plant biomass. Micron-sized (bulk) Ag particles (2.5 mg/kg) as well as Ag ions (63 μg Ag/kg) equivalent to the amount of soluble Ag in planted sand with Ag NPs (2.5 mg/kg) did not affect plant growth compared to control. In contrast, higher levels of Ag ions (2.5 mg/kg) reduced plant growth to a similar extent as the Ag NPs. Accumulation of Ag was detected in the shoots, indicating an uptake and transport of the metal from the Ag NPs in the sand. Transmision electron microscopy indicated that Ag NPs were present in shoots of plants with roots exposed to the Ag NPs or high levels of Ag ions. Both of these treatments caused oxidative stress in roots, as indicated by accumulation of oxidized glutathione, and induced expression of a gene encoding a metallothionein involved in detoxification by metal ion sequestration. Our findings demonstrate the potential effects of environmental contamination by Ag NPs on the metabolism and growth of food crops in a solid matrix. © 2012 American Chemical Society.

This document is currently not available here.