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Environ Sci Technol. 2012 May 15;46(10):5387-95. doi: 10.1021/es204540z. Epub 2012 May 4.

Impacts of silver nanoparticle coating on the nitrification potential of Nitrosomonas europaea.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Duke University, Box 90287, Durham, North Carolina 27708, United States.


Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are increasingly used as bacteriostatic agents to prevent microbial growth. AgNPs are manufactured with a variety of coatings, and their potential impacts on wastewater treatment in general are poorly understood. In the present study, Nitrosomonas europaea, a model ammonia oxidizing bacterium, was exposed to AgNPs with citrate, gum arabic (GA), and polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP). GA and citrate AgNPs inhibited nitrification most strongly (67.9 ± 3.6% and 91.4 ± 0.2%, respectively at 2 ppm). Our data indicate that Ag(+) dissolution and colloid stability of AgNPs were the main factors in AgNP toxicity. In general, low amounts of dissolved Ag initially caused a post-transcriptional interruption of membrane-bound nitrifying enzyme function, reducing nitrification by 10% or more. A further increase in dissolved Ag resulted in heavy metal stress response (e.g., merA up-regulation) and ultimately led to membrane disruption. The highest effect on membrane disruption was observed for citrate AgNPs (64 ± 11% membranes compromised at 2 ppm), which had high colloidal stability. This study demonstrates that coating plays a very important role in determining Ag dissolution and ultimately toxicity to nitrifiers. More research is needed to characterize these parameters in complex growth media such as wastewater.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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