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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 17;8(4):e61800. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061800. Print 2013.

Impact of engineered zinc oxide nanoparticles on the individual performance of Mytilus galloprovincialis.

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  • 1Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California, United States of America.


The increased use of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) in consumer products raises the concern of environmental release and subsequent impacts in natural communities. We tested for physiological and demographic impacts of ZnO, a prevalent metal oxide ENP, on the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis. We exposed mussels of two size classes, <4.5 and ≥ 4.5 cm shell length, to 0.1-2 mg l(-1) ZnO ENPs in seawater for 12 wk, and measured the effect on mussel respiration, accumulation of Zn, growth, and survival. After 12 wk of exposure to ZnO ENPs, respiration rates of mussels increased with ZnO concentration. Mussels had up to three fold more Zn in tissues than control groups after 12 wk of exposure, but patterns of Zn accumulation varied with mussel size and Zn concentrations. Small mussels accumulated Zn 10 times faster than large mussels at 0.5 mg l(-1), while large mussels accumulated Zn four times faster than small mussels at 2 mg l(-1). Mussels exposed to 2 mg l(-1) ZnO grew 40% less than mussels in our control group for both size classes. Survival significantly decreased only in groups exposed to the highest ZnO concentration (2 mg l(-1)) and was lower for small mussels than large. Our results indicate that ZnO ENPs are toxic to mussels but at levels unlikely to be reached in natural marine waters.

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