Environmental Chemistry Letters

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 1441–1448 | Cite as

Discovery of nano-sized gold particles in natural plant tissues

  • Xiaoen Luo
  • Jianjin CaoEmail author
Original Paper


Biological effects of nanoparticles have attracted widespread attention. However, the interaction between plants and nanoparticles remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to investigate characteristics of nano-sized metal particles in two representative plant species, Erigeron canadensis and Boehmeria nivea, in the Guangdong Province, China. The stems of the plants were sliced and placed on Ni–C grids for field-emission transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The metal-bearing nanoparticles were further analysed for their size, shape, composition, content and other characteristics using X-ray energy spectrum analysis, scanning TEM and selected-area electron diffraction pattern. The results revealed that the plants contain nano-sized Au-bearing particles with a diameter of 5–50 nm, ellipsoid, spherical and bone-rod shapes or irregular morphology with smooth edges. These nanoparticles primarily consisted of Au, Cu, O and Cl. The discovery of Au-bearing nanoparticles in natural plant tissues is of great significance for biological nanoscience. Here, we discuss the function and absorption mechanism of Au-bearing nanoparticles in plants and present the influence of the discovery of Au-bearing nanoparticles in natural plants.


Au nanoparticles Plant tissues TEM study Characteristic Absorption mechanism Environment 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41473040 and 41030425). The authors wish to thank Chen Dong of the School of Life Science of the Sun Yat-sen University for assisting with the pretreatment of plant samples and acknowledge Huang Qingli of the Instrument Analysis Center of the Yangzhou University for the assistance in TEM analysis.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Earth Sciences and EngineeringSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral Resource Exploration, School of Earth Sciences and EngineeringSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina

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