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 Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

nachricht Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017
25.04.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>