Toxicity of Nanomaterials to Microorganisms: Mechanisms, Methods, and New Perspectives
Andreia Fonseca de Faria,
Ana Carolina Mazarin de Moraes,
Oswaldo L. Alves
In the last few years, several nanomaterials with unique physicochemical properties have been developing. Specially, nano-sized materials such as silver and zinc nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, and graphene oxide have been attracting great attention due to their potential as novel antimicrobial agents. Worldwide, the constant and indiscriminate use of conventional antibiotics has been responsible for the development of several resistant microbial species. In this context, there is a real and increasing demand for new antimicrobial agents. Nanomaterials offer several benefits due to their small size (high aspect volume/area) that provides to nanoparticles great ability to get through physical barriers such as membranes and cellular walls. Henceforth, the aim of this present chapter is to discuss the toxicological aspects of nanomaterials to microorganisms, describing the methods to evaluate their antimicrobial activity and highlighting their implications on the microbial communities of soil and water environments. We also stress the main industrial applications of antimicrobial-engineered nanomaterials.