Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plants Can Accumulate Nanoparticles in Tissues

13.11.2008
Researchers at the University of Delaware have provided what is believed to be the first experimental evidence that plants can take up nanoparticles and accumulate them in their tissues.

The laboratory study, which involved pumpkin plants, indicates a possible pathway for nanoparticles to enter the food chain. The research also reveals a new experimental approach for studying nanoparticles and their potential impacts.

Yan Jin, professor of soil physics in the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and John Xiao, professor of physics and astronomy in the College of Arts and Sciences, led the study, working with colleagues Jung-youn Lee and Harsh Bais at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, a premier research center at the University of Delaware.

The results were published in a cover article in the Journal of Environmental Monitoring and also were highlighted in Chemical Biology, a journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Nanoparticles are bits of chemicals a thousand times smaller than a human cell. While nanoparticles occur naturally in the environment, they increasingly are being manufactured for use in electronics to cosmetics, fuel cells to medical procedures.

Yet the human and environmental health risks associated with these tiny engineered particles are not well known. Because chemical compounds can take on different properties at such a reduced size--lead in a pencil reportedly becomes stronger than steel, for example--there is concern that these invisible particles could easily be breathed in by humans and animals, with damaging or toxic effects.

“Plants serve as a foundation of the food chain,” noted Jin, who was recently named a fellow of the Soil Society of America. “We demonstrated this possible route for nanoparticles in the environment--whether it poses potential harm to human health depends on many factors. This is a preliminary study, which we hope will spur additional interdisciplinary research by the scientific community.”

The researchers chose pumpkins for the study, Jin said, because they take in a lot of water and are easy to grow.

The plants were grown hydroponically in an aqueous medium to which nanoparticles of iron oxide, or magnetite, a magnetic form of iron ore, were added.

After 20 days of growth, the plants were cut into pieces and dried in a vacuum dessicator. A magnetometer was then used to detect if any of the particles had been absorbed by the plant.

“Our study was a worst-case scenario in order to test the feasibility of our approach in being able to detect the particle,” Xiao noted. “It really provides a new technique for doing this kind of research.”

Xiao, who directs the Center for Spintronics and Biodetection at the University of Delaware, noted that the magnetometer used in his physics research is similar to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses a powerful magnetic field and radio-frequency pulses to produce images of internal structures in the human body.

The magnetometer subjected the dried pumpkin plants to a low-frequency monotone to vibrate them. The vibration revealed each tiny particle of magnetite's unique magnetic signal and, thus, exact location inside the plant.

The researchers noted that in their initial screening tests, no magnetic signals were detected in lima bean plants compared to the strong signals in pumpkin plants, which suggests that different plants have varied responses to nanosized particles.

Additionally, while the pumpkins were studied primarily in aqueous media, the researchers also tested the plants in sand to which nanoparticles were added, where there was little uptake, and in soil, where there was no uptake of nanoparticles at all, according to Jin.

Jin noted how important interdisciplinary collaboration has been to the research and said she hopes to see plant scientists and molecular biologists involved in future studies to see how nanoparticles actually get into plants.

“Some believe it is a passive process; others are convinced it is an active one,” Jin said. “There could be whole other lines of research,” she noted.

“It's like a saying we have in Chinese,” Jin added. “You throw out a brick and hope to attract a jade.”

The saying, which is a Chinese way of showing humility, demonstrates the speaker's hope that others will improve on an idea.

“We want to stress that our study is very preliminary, and we hope it will stimulate more research in this area,” she said.

The project was funded by the Delaware Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), which is supported by the National Science Foundation and the state of Delaware.

Jin and Xiao also recently won a STAR grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to examine the fate and transport of engineered nanoparticles in porous media, including soil and groundwater.

See the complete story and photos at this University of Delaware Web site: http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2009/nov/pumkpkins111108.html

University of Delaware | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.udel.edu

Further reports about: Delaware Environmental Iron Jin Magnetic Plants Tissues food chain nanoparticles

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Two Group A Streptococcus genes linked to 'flesh-eating' bacterial infections
25.09.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fraunhofer ISE Pushes World Record for Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cells to 22.3 Percent

25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Usher syndrome: Gene therapy restores hearing and balance

25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

An international team of physicists a coherent amplification effect in laser excited dielectrics

25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>