Environmental science and pollution research international

Integrating ecotoxicity and chemical approaches to compare the effects of ZnO nanoparticles, ZnO bulk, and ZnCl2 on plants and microorganisms in a natural soil.

PMID 26099597


This work compared the toxicity of ZnO nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs), ZnO bulk, and ZnCl2 on microbial activity (C and N transformations and dehydrogenase and phosphatase activities) and their uptake and toxic effects (emergence, root elongation, and shoot growth) on three plant species namely wheat, radish, and vetch in a natural soil at 1000 mg Zn kg(-1). Additionally, plants were also tested at 250 mg Zn kg(-1). The effects of the chemical species on Zn extractability in soil were studied by performing single and sequential extractions. ZnCl2-1000 presented the highest toxicity for both taxonomic groups. For microorganisms, ZnO-NPs demonstrated adverse effects on all measured parameters, except on N transformations. The effects of both ZnO forms were similar. For plants, ZnO-NPs affected the growth of more plant species than ZnO bulk, although the effects were small in all cases. Regarding accumulation, the total Zn amounts were higher in plants exposed to ZnO-NP than those exposed to ZnO bulk, except for vetch shoots. The soil sequential extraction revealed that the Zn concentration in the most labile forms (water soluble (WS) and exchangeable (EX)) was similar in soil treated with ZnO (NP and bulk) and lower than that of ZnCl2-treated soil, indicating the higher availability of the ionic forms. The strong correlations obtained between WS-Zn fraction and the Zn concentrations in the roots, shoots, and the effects on shoot weight show the suitability of this soil extraction method for predicting bioavailable Zn soil for the three plant species when it was added as ZnO-NPs, ZnO bulk, or ZnCl2. In this work, the hazard associated with the ZnO-NPs was similar to ZnO bulk in most cases.