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Sci Rep. 2016 Mar 31;6:23819. doi: 10.1038/srep23819.

The transfer of titanium dioxide nanoparticles from the host plant to butterfly larvae through a food chain.

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Center for Environmental Health Science for the Next Generation, Research Institute for Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science, 2641 Yamazaki, Noda-shi, Chiba 261-8502 Japan.
Biological Laboratory, The Open University of Japan, Wakaba, Mihama-ku, Chiba 261-8506, Japan.
Application Center-Tokyo, Research and Development Division, HORIBA, LTD., 2-6 Awajicho, Kanda, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 101-0063, Japan.
Department of Computer Science, Waseda University, 3-4-1 Ohkubo, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-8555, Japan.


This study aimed to examine the transfer of nanoparticles within a terrestrial food chain. Oviposited eggs of the swallowtail butterfly (Atrophaneura alcinous) were hatched on the leaves of the host plant (Aristolochia debilis), and the root stock and root hairs were submerged in a suspension of 10 μg/ml titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2-NPs) in a 100 ml bottle. The presence of TiO2-NPs in the veins of the leaves was confirmed by X-ray analytical microscopy (X-ray AM). The hatched 1st instar larvae fed on the leaves to moult into 2nd instar larvae. Small agglomerates of TiO2-NPs less than 150 nm in diameter were identified in the vascular tissue of the exposed plant, the midgut and the excreta of the larvae by transmission electron microscopy. The image of Ti elemental mapping by X-ray AM was analysed with the quantitative spatial information mapping (QSIM) technique. The results demonstrated that TiO2-NPs were transferred from the plant to the larvae and they were disseminated throughout the environment via larval excreta.

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