Phytotoxicity, accumulation and transport of silver nanoparticles by Arabidopsis thaliana

Jane Geisler-Lee, Qiang Wang, Ying Yao, Wen Zhang, Matt Geisler, Kungang Li, Ying Huang, Yongsheng Chen, Andrei Kolmakov, Xingmao Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

267 Scopus citations


The widespread availability of nano-enabled products in the global market may lead to the release of a substantial amount of engineered nanoparticles in the environment, which frequently display drastically different physiochemical properties than their bulk counterparts. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the impact of citrate-stabilised silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) on the plant Arabidopsis thaliana at three levels, physiological phytotoxicity, cellular accumulation and subcellular transport of AgNPs. The monodisperse AgNPs of three different sizes (20, 40 and 80 nm) aggregated into much larger sizes after mixing with quarter-strength Hoagland solution and became polydisperse. Immersion in AgNP suspension inhibited seedling root elongation and demonstrated a linear dose-response relationship within the tested concentration range. The phytotoxic effect of AgNPs could not be fully explained by the released silver ions. Plants exposed to AgNP suspensions bioaccumulated higher silver content than plants exposed to AgNO3 solutions (Ag+ representative), indicating AgNP uptake by plants. AgNP toxicity was size and concentration dependent. AgNPs accumulated progressively in this sequence: border cells, root cap, columella and columella initials. AgNPs were apoplastically transported in the cell wall and found aggregated at plasmodesmata. In all the three levels studied, AgNP impacts differed from equivalent dosages of AgNO3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-337
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Toxicology


  • Accumulation and transport
  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Particle size
  • Phytotoxicity
  • Silver ions
  • Silver nanoparticles


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