Foliar versus root exposure of AgNPs to lettuce: Phytotoxicity, antioxidant responses and internal translocation.


Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML), Leiden University, PO Box 9518, 2300 RA, Leiden, the Netherlands. Electronic address: [Email]


Whether toxicity of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) to organisms originates from the nanoparticles themselves or from the dissolved Ag-ions is still debated, with the majority of studies claiming that extracellular release of Ag-ions is the main cause of toxicity. The objective of this study was to determine the contributions of both particles and dissolved ions to toxic responses, and to better understand the underlying mechanisms of toxicity. In addition, the pathways of AgNPs exposure to plants might play an important role and therefore are explicitly studied as well. We systematically assessed the phytotoxicity, internalization, biodistribution, and antioxidant responses in lettuce (Lactuca sativa) following root or foliar exposure to AgNPs and ionic Ag at various concentrations. For each endpoint the relative contribution of the particle-specific versus the ionic form was quantified. The results reveal particle-specific toxicity and uptake of AgNPs in lettuce as the relative contribution of particulate Ag accounted for more than 65% to the overall toxicity and the Ag accumulation in whole plant tissues. In addition, particle toxicity is shown to originate from the accumulation of Ag in plants by blocking nutrient transport, while ion toxicity is likely due to the induction of excess ROS production. Root exposure induced higher toxicity than foliar exposure at comparable exposure levels. Ag was found to be taken up and subsequently translocated from the exposed parts of plants to other portions regardless of the exposure pathway. These findings suggest particle related toxicity, and demonstrate that the accumulation and translocation of silver nanoparticles need to be considered in assessment of environmental risks and of food safety following consumption of plants exposed to AgNPs by humans.


Biodistribution,Nanosilver,Oxidative stress,Uptake,Vascular plant,

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