Phytotoxicity, uptake, and accumulation of silver with different particle sizes and chemical forms Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. The antimicrobial property of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) makes it one of the most commonly encountered nanomaterials in commercial products. Consequently, its detection in the environment is highly likely and its potential toxicity has been heavily investigated. While it is now generally agreed that AgNP itself exerts unique toxicity to plants in addition to that of dissolved silver ion, the accumulation and fate of different forms of silver in plant tissues are unknown. This study investigates the phytotoxicity, accumulation, and transport of Ag with different physical and chemical characteristics (e.g., ionic, nanoparticles, and bulk) in two agricultural crop species: Glycine max (soybean) and Triticum aestivum (wheat). The results showed that different forms of Ag demonstrated differential toxicity in these two species, with the Ag+ at the same nominal concentration displaying the strongest effect on plant growth. Exposure to 5 mg/L of elemental Ag in different forms all resulted in significant deposition on the root surface but its morphology and distribution patterns varied considerably. The Ag transport efficiency from roots to shoots differed with both Ag type and plant species. Notably, the upward transport of AgNPs (20–50 nm) was considerably more substantial than that of bulk Ag (1–3 µm). Cell fractionation studies confirmed that all types of Ag were internalized, with the plant cell wall as the predominant place for element accumulation. The findings demonstrate that Ag toxicity and in planta fate vary with particle type and that such considerations are likely necessary to adequately assess food safety concerns upon NP exposure.

author list (cited authors)

  • Quah, B., Musante, C., White, J. C., & Ma, X.

citation count

  • 15

publication date

  • June 2015