Uptake and elimination kinetics of silver nanoparticles and silver nitrate by Raphidocelis subcapitata: The influence of silver behaviour in solution.Nanotoxicology. 2015; 9(6):686-95.N
Raphidocelis subcapitata is a freshwater algae species that constitutes the basis of many aquatic trophic chains. In this study, R. subcapitata was used as a model species to investigate the kinetics of uptake and elimination of silver nanoparticles (AgNP) in comparison to silver nitrate (AgNO3) with particular focus on the Ag sized-fractions in solution. AgNP used in this study were provided in a suspension of 1 mg Ag/l, with an initial size of 3-8 nm and coated with an alkane material. Algae was exposed for 48 h to both AgNP and AgNO3 and sampled at different time points to determine their internal Ag concentration over time. Samples were collected and separated into different sized fractions: total (Agtot), water column Ag (Agwater), small particulate Ag (Agsmall.part.) and dissolved Ag (Agdis). At AgNO3 exposures algae reached higher bioconcentration factor (BCF) and lower elimination rate constants than at AgNP exposures, meaning that Ag is more readily taken up by algae in its dissolved form than in its small particulate form, however slowly eliminated. When modelling the kinetics based on the Agdis fraction, a higher BCF was found. This supports our hypothesis that Ag would be internalised by algae only in its dissolved form. In addition, algae images obtained by Coherent Anti-stokes Raman Scattering (CARS) microscopy demonstrated large aggregates of nanoparticles external to the algae cells with no evidence of its internalisation, thus providing a strong suggestion that these AgNP were not able to penetrate the cells and Ag accumulation happens through the uptake of Ag ions.