Understanding the uptake and phytoremediation of gold nanoparticles in the environment

E. Schott, C. Pondell, A. van Doorn, V. Connaughton, M.R. Hartings
American University,
United States

Keywords: gold nanoparticles, uptake, phytoremediation, zebrafish, java fern


With the increased use of nanomaterials in commercial products, it is imperative that the scientific community develops a better understanding of how they affect both public and environmental health. Gold nanoparticles offer an attractive case study due to their facile preparation in the laboratory and their ease of analysis using optical methods. Gold nanoparticles are also pertinent for their potential biomedical applications. However, definitive knowledge of their toxicity a characterization of their transport in the environment need to be better studied. We have used an interdisciplinary approach to examine these properties of gold nanoparticles. In vitro and in vivo tests were conducted by exposure studies to Danio rerio (zebrafish) and Microsorum pteropus (Java Fern) in order to observe the cellular uptake of the nanoparticles in plants and animals. Properties of the gold nanoparticles were observed during exposure to various dissolved ions in aquatic samples to determine the response of these nanoparticles to different environmental conditions. Importantly, we observe and characterize how Microsorum pteropus removes gold nanoparticles from aqueous systems. Our results display the extent of nanoparticle uptake by two different biological systems the environment, and observation of the nanoparticles aggregating onto certain plant roots indicates potential use for phytoremediation of gold nanoparticles. Overall, this study enhanced our understanding of the behavior of gold nanoparticles, and provides a platform from which to further investigate the toxicity of gold nanoparticles as their use in biomedical and pharmaceutical sectors expands.