, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 372–386 | Cite as

Environmental behavior and ecotoxicity of engineered nanoparticles to algae, plants, and fungi

  • Enrique NavarroEmail author
  • Anders Baun
  • Renata Behra
  • Nanna B. Hartmann
  • Juliane Filser
  • Ai-Jun Miao
  • Antonietta Quigg
  • Peter H. Santschi
  • Laura Sigg


Developments in nanotechnology are leading to a rapid proliferation of new materials that are likely to become a source of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) to the environment, where their possible ecotoxicological impacts remain unknown. The surface properties of ENPs are of essential importance for their aggregation behavior, and thus for their mobility in aquatic and terrestrial systems and for their interactions with algae, plants and, fungi. Interactions of ENPs with natural organic matter have to be considered as well, as those will alter the ENPs aggregation behavior in surface waters or in soils. Cells of plants, algae, and fungi possess cell walls that constitute a primary site for interaction and a barrier for the entrance of ENPs. Mechanisms allowing ENPs to pass through cell walls and membranes are as yet poorly understood. Inside cells, ENPs might directly provoke alterations of membranes and other cell structures and molecules, as well as protective mechanisms. Indirect effects of ENPs depend on their chemical and physical properties and may include physical restraints (clogging effects), solubilization of toxic ENP compounds, or production of reactive oxygen species. Many questions regarding the bioavailability of ENPs, their uptake by algae, plants, and fungi and the toxicity mechanisms remain to be elucidated.


Toxicity Nanoparticles Fullerenes Carbon nanotubes Carbon black Silver nanoparticles TiO2 Organic matter 



The authors would like to thank Richard Handy for the invitation to write this paper, and two anonymous reviewers, whose comments improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Enrique Navarro
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Anders Baun
    • 3
  • Renata Behra
    • 1
  • Nanna B. Hartmann
    • 3
  • Juliane Filser
    • 4
  • Ai-Jun Miao
    • 5
  • Antonietta Quigg
    • 5
  • Peter H. Santschi
    • 5
  • Laura Sigg
    • 1
  1. 1.Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag)DubendorfSwitzerland
  2. 2.Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología-CSICZaragozaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Environment EngineeringTechnical University of DenmarkKongens LyngbyDenmark
  4. 4.General and Theoretical Ecology (UFT)University of BremenBremenGermany
  5. 5.Department of Marine Science/BiologyTexas A&M UniversityTXUSA

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