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Ecotoxicity: All clear for silver nanoparticles?
Date:2/25/2014

ed changes in the activity of about 1000 other genes and proteins, which they interpreted as a response to the stressor an attempt to repair silver-induced damage. At low concentrations, the cells' photosynthesis apparatus recovered within five hours, and recovery mechanisms were sufficient to deal with all but the highest concentrations tested.

A number of unanswered questions

At first glance, the results are reassuring because the silver concentrations that the algae are subject to in the environment are rarely as high as those applied in the lab, which allows them to recover quickly at least externally. But the experiments also showed that even low silver concentrations have a significant effect on intracellular processes and that the algae divert their energy to repairing damage incurred. This can pose a problem when other stressors act in parallel, such as increased UV-radiation or other chemical compounds. Moreover, it remains unknown to this day whether the cells have an active mechanism to shuttle out the silver. Lacking such a mechanism, the silver could have adverse effects on higher organisms, given that algae are at the bottom of the food chain.


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Contact: Dr. Kristin Schirmer
kristin.schirmer@eawag.ch
Ecole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne
Source:Eurekalert

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