Direct and Indirect Toxic Effects of Engineered Nanoparticles on Algae: Role of Natural Organic Matter Academic Article uri icon


  • In order to assess the overall risk posed by engineered nanoparticles (ENPs), the biological effects of this emergent pollutant to aquatic ecosystems must be evaluated. We present findings from studies conducted with a diversity of ENPs (metallic, quantum dots) on a variety of freshwater and marine algae (phytoplankton) illustrating both their direct and indirect effects. We show that in general, while the surface properties of ENPs govern their aggregation behavior and ionic strength controls their dissolution, exopolymeric substances (EPS) produced by algae determine their potential to be toxic and thereby movement through the water column and food web. The production of EPS reduces the impact of ENPs (bioavailability and toxicity) and/or their ions on cellular activities of algae. It does not however directly reduce the aggregation and/or solubility of ENPs but rather affects their stability. Complicating understanding of these interactions is the great assortment of surface coatings for ENPs. This perspective is intended to highlight our current knowledge and the need for future research particularly focused on determining the fate and transport of ENPs in the aquatic environment. 2013 American Chemical Society.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Quigg, A., Chin, W., Chen, C., Zhang, S., Jiang, Y., Miao, A., ... Santschi, P. H.

citation count

  • 141

complete list of authors

  • Quigg, Antonietta||Chin, Wei-Chun||Chen, Chi-Shuo||Zhang, Saijin||Jiang, Yuelu||Miao, Ai-Jun||Schwehr, Kathleen A||Xu, Chen||Santschi, Peter H

publication date

  • July 2013