Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 14, pp 10452–10462 | Cite as

Effects of the size and morphology of zinc oxide nanoparticles on the germination of Chinese cabbage seeds

  • Lei Xiang
  • Hai-Ming Zhao
  • Yan-Wen Li
  • Xian-Pei Huang
  • Xiao-Lian Wu
  • Teng Zhai
  • Yue Yuan
  • Quan-Ying Cai
  • Ce-Hui Mo
Research Article


The toxicity of four zinc oxide nanoparticles (i.e., spheric ZnO-30, spheric ZnO-50, columnar ZnO-90, and hexagon rod-like ZnO-150) to the seed germination of Chinese cabbage (Brassica pekinensis L.) was investigated in this study. The results showed that zinc oxide nanoparticles (nano-ZnOs) did not affect germination rates at concentrations of 1–80 mg/L but significantly inhibited the root and shoot elongation of Chinese cabbage seedlings, with the roots being more sensitive. The inhibition was evident mainly during seed incubation rather than the seed soaking process. Both the production of free hydroxyl groups (·OH) and the Zn bioaccumulation in roots or shoots resulted in toxicity of nano-ZnOs to Chinese cabbage seedlings. The toxicity of nano-ZnOs was affected significantly by their primary particle sizes in the minimum dimensionality, but large columnar ZnO-90 and small spherical ZnO-50 had comparable toxicities. Therefore, both the particle size and morphology affected the toxicity of nano-ZnOs.


Zinc oxide Nanoparticles Size Morphology Seed germination Toxicity 



This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41071211, 41173101, and 41301337).

Supplementary material

11356_2015_4172_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (658 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 657 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lei Xiang
    • 1
  • Hai-Ming Zhao
    • 1
  • Yan-Wen Li
    • 1
  • Xian-Pei Huang
    • 1
  • Xiao-Lian Wu
    • 1
  • Teng Zhai
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yue Yuan
    • 1
  • Quan-Ying Cai
    • 1
  • Ce-Hui Mo
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Water/Soil Toxic Pollutants Control and Bioremediation of Guangdong Higher Education Institutions, School of EnvironmentJinan UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringSun Yat-Sen UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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