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Vol. 24 (1), 2015, Pages: 119-129

Nano-CuO and interaction with nano-ZnO or soil bacterium provide evidence for the interference of nanoparticles in metal nutrition of plants

Christian O. Dimkpa, Joan E. McLean, David W. Britt, Anne J. Anderson

Department of Biology, Utah State University, Logan, UT, 84322, USA.


The expansion of nanotechnology raises concerns about the consequences of nanomaterials in plants. Here, the effects of nanoparticles (NPs; 100–500 mg/kg) on processes related to micronutrient accumulation were evaluated in bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) exposed to CuO NPs, a mixture of CuO and ZnO (CuO:ZnO) NPs, and in CuO NP-exposed plants colonized by a root bacterium, Pseudomonas chlororaphis O6 (PcO6) in a sand matrix for 7 days. Depending on exposure levels, the inhibition of growth by CuO NPs was more apparent in roots (10–66 %) than shoots (9–25 %). In contrast, CuO:ZnO NPs or root colonization with PcO6 partially mitigated growth inhibition. At 500 mg/kg exposure, CuO NPs increased soluble Cu in the growth matrix by 23-fold, relative to the control, while CuO:ZnO NPs increased soluble Cu (26-fold), Zn (127-fold) and Ca (4.5-fold), but reduced levels of Fe (0.8-fold) and Mn (0.75-fold). Shoot accumulations of Cu (3.8-fold) and Na (1-fold) increased, while those of Fe (0.4-fold), Mn (0.2-fold), Zn (0.5-fold) and Ca (0.5-fold) were reduced with CuO NP (500 mg/kg) exposure. CuO:ZnO NPs also increased shoot Cu, Zn and Na levels, while decreasing that of Fe, Mn, Ca and Mg. Root colonization reduced shoot uptake of Cu and Na, 15 and 24 %, respectively. CuO NPs inhibited ferric reductase (up to 49 %) but stimulated cupric (up to 273 %) reductase activity; while CuO:ZnO NPs or root colonization by PcO6 altered levels of ferric, but not copper reductase activity, relative to CuO NPs. Cu ions at the level released from the NPs did not duplicate these effects. Our findings demonstrate that in addition to the apparent phytotoxic effects of NPs, NP exposure may also have subtle impacts on secondary processes such as metal nutrition.

Keywords: Metal oxide nanoparticles, Plant nutrition, Soil bacteria, Solubility, Bioaccumulation, Reductase.

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