Toxic effects of copper-based nanoparticles or compounds to lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa)


The increased production and use of nanoparticles (NPs) has generated concerns about their impact on living organisms. In this study, nCu, bulk Cu, nCuO, bulk CuO, Cu(OH)2 (CuPRO 2005, Kocide 3000), and CuCl2 were exposed for 15 days to 10 days-old hydroponically grown lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa). Each compound was applied at 0, 5, 10, and 20 mg L-1. At harvest, we measured the size of the plants and determined the concentration of Cu, macro and microelements by using ICP-OES. Catalase and ascorbate peroxidase activity was also determined. Results showed that all Cu NPs/compounds reduced the root length by 49% in both plant species. All Cu NPs/compounds increased Cu, P, and S (>100%, >50%, and >20%, respectively) in alfalfa shoots and decreased P and Fe in lettuce shoot (>50% and >50%, respectively, excluding Fe in CuCl2 treatment). Biochemical assays showed reduced catalase activity in alfalfa (root and shoot) and increased ascorbate peroxidase activity in roots of both plant species. Results suggest that Cu NPs/compounds not only reduced the size of the plants but altered nutrient content and enzyme activity in both plant species.

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Environmental Sciences: Processes and Impacts