Nanoparticle Surface Chemistry Influences Journey Through Tomato Plant


Terrestrial ecosystems are a major sink for manufactured nanomaterials (MNM) released unintentionally or used intentionally in agrochemical formulations. These nanomaterials can be taken up by plants and transferred to herbivores.

The surface chemistry of manufactured nanoparticles can have a profound impact on their uptake and translocation in plants. However, there is a limited understanding of the tissue, cellular, and subcellular basis for this.

Researchers used a novel hard X-ray nanoprobe with unprecedented spatial resolution (<15 nm) to reveal details about the effects of the surface chemistry of the nanoparticle cerium dioxide (CeO2) on its uptake and translocation in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). CeO2 is a good model material for studying plant-MNM interactions because it is relatively insoluble in typical plant growth media and can be easily measured and tracked by different imaging and spectroscopic methods. CeO2 MNM are among the most widely used nanomaterials found in fuel additives, polishing agents, industrial catalysts, and have recently received interest for use as plant growth promoters in agricultural production.

This study provides critical information on how particle surface chemistry influences the biodistribution and cellular localization of nanomaterials in plants using high resolution X-ray imaging of nanomaterials in plant cells. This information enhances the ability to predict how nanomaterial properties influence the uptake, transformations, and subsequent trophic transfer of nanomaterials in terrestrial food webs.

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J. Li, R. V. Tappero, A. S. Acerbo, H. Yan, Y. Chu, G. V. Lowry, J. M. Unrine. “Effect of CeO2 nanomaterial surface functional groups on tissue and subcellular distribution of Ce in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum).” Environ. Sci.: Nano (2019). [DOI:10.1039/c8en01287c]