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Water Res. 2008 Jun;42(12):3066-74. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2008.02.021. Epub 2008 Mar 4.

The inhibitory effects of silver nanoparticles, silver ions, and silver chloride colloids on microbial growth.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Missouri, E2509 Lafferre Hall, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.


Emerging nanomaterials are of great concern to wastewater treatment utilities and the environment. The inhibitory effects of silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) and other important Ag species on microbial growth were evaluated using extant respirometry and an automatic microtiter fluorescence assay. Using autotrophic nitrifying organisms from a well-controlled continuously operated bioreactor, Ag NPs (average size=14+/-6 nm), Ag(+) ions (AgNO(3)), and AgCl colloids (average size=0.25 microm), all at 1mg/L Ag, inhibited respiration by 86+/-3%, 42+/-7%, and 46+/-4%, respectively. Based on a prolonged microtiter assay, at about 0.5mg/L Ag, the inhibitions on the growth of Escherichia coli PHL628-gfp by Ag NPs, Ag(+) ions, and AgCl colloids were 55+/-8%, 100%, and 66+/-6%, respectively. Cell membrane integrity was not compromised under the treatment of test Ag species by using a LIVE/DEAD Baclight bacterial viability assay. However, electron micrographs demonstrated that Ag NPs attached to the microbial cells, probably causing cell wall pitting. The results suggest that nitrifying bacteria are especially susceptible to inhibition by Ag NPs, and the accumulation of Ag NPs could have detrimental effects on the microorganisms in wastewater treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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