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Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Jun 15;42(12):4583-8.

Size dependent and reactive oxygen species related nanosilver toxicity to nitrifying bacteria.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri 65211, USA.


The intrinsic slow growth of nitrifying bacteria and their high sensitivity to environmental perturbations often result in cell growth inhibition by toxicants. Nanoparticles are of great concern to the environment because of their small size and high catalytic properties. This work sought to determine size-dependent inhibition by Ag nanoparticles and evaluate the relationship between the inhibition and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Nanoparticles with an average size range of 9-21 nm were synthesized by varying the molar ratios of BH4-/Ag+ in the solution. The resulting ROS generation was quantified in the presence and absence of the bacteria while the degree of inhibition was inferred from specific oxygen uptake rate measurements, determined by extant respirometry. By examining the correlation between nanoparticle size distribution, photocatalytic ROS generation, intracellular ROS accumulation, and nitrification inhibition, we observed that inhibition to nitrifying organisms correlated with the fraction of Ag nanoparticles less than 5 nm in the suspension. It appeared that these size nanoparticles could be more toxic to bacteria than any other fractions of nanoparticles or their counterpart bulk species. Furthermore, inhibition by Ag nanoparticles as well as other forms of silver (AgCl colloid and Ag+ ion) correlated well with the intracellular ROS concentrations, but not with the photocatalytic ROS fractions. The ROS correlations were different for the different forms of silver, indicating that factors other than ROS are also important in determining nanosilver toxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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