PloS one

Detection of silver nanoparticles inside marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana by electron microscopy and focused ion beam.

PMID 24797958


In the following article an electron/ion microscopy study will be presented which investigates the uptake of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) by the marine diatom Thalassiosira pseudonana, a primary producer aquatic species. This organism has a characteristic silica exoskeleton that may represent a barrier for the uptake of some chemical pollutants, including nanoparticles (NPs), but that presents a technical challenge when attempting to use electron-microscopy (EM) methods to study NP uptake. Here we present a convenient method to detect the NPs interacting with the diatom cell. It is based on a fixation procedure involving critical point drying which, without prior slicing of the cell, allows its inspection using transmission electron microscopy. Employing a combination of electron and ion microscopy techniques to selectively cut the cell where the NPs were detected, we are able to demonstrate and visualize for the first time the presence of AgNPs inside the cell membrane.