Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 1732–1741 | Cite as

Root water transport of Helianthus annuus L. under iron oxide nanoparticle exposure

  • Domingo Martínez-Fernández
  • Didac Barroso
  • Michael Komárek
Research Article


The application of nanomaterials in commercially available products is increasing rapidly for agriculture, phytoremediation and biotechnology. Since plants suppose the first sink for the accumulation of nanoparticles from the environment, emerging studies have focused on the general consequences for plants and their effects on the biomass production. However, effects on the root surface, as well as blockage of nutrients and water uptake by the roots, may also occur. This experiment was designed to prove if the plant water relations can be affected by the adsorption of nanoparticles on the root surface, causing a consequent stress for the plants. With this goal, plants of Helianthus annuus were previously grown in a hydroponic culture, and at age of 55 days, their roots were exposed to three different concentrations of nanomaghemite (NM) in the hydroponic solution for 5 days: control without NM; 50 and 100 mg l−1 NM. The main effect was related to the reduction of the root hydraulic conductivity (L o ) and the nutrients uptake. The concentrations of the macronutrients Ca, K, Mg and S in the shoot were reduced relative to the control plants, which resulted in lower contents of chlorophyll pigments. Although stress was not detected in the plants, after the analysis of stress markers like the accumulation of proline or ascorbate in the tissues, reduction of the root functionality by nanoparticles has been identified here, manifested as the effect of NM on L o . The treatment with 50 mg l−1 NM significantly reduced the L o , by up to 57 % of its control value, and it was reduced by up to 26 % at 100 mg l−1 NM. These results will be an important factor to take into account with regard to the applicability of NM for long-term use in crops, particularly during privative water conditions.


Root hydraulic conductivity Nano-oxide Sunflower Metals Chlorophylls Uptake 



Domingo Martínez-Fernández is grateful for financial support from the European project Postdok ČZU (ESF/MŠMT CZ.1.07/2.3.00/30.0040). Michael Komárek is thankful for the support from the Czech Science Foundation (project 15-07117S). The authors thank Sylva Číhalová for her assistance with ICP analyses, and Martin Kočárek with the lyophilisation. The English revision by Dr. David J. Walker, the collaboration of Helena Neprasova and Miroslava Anderova from the IEM and The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, for the use of the osmometer, are also acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Domingo Martínez-Fernández
    • 1
  • Didac Barroso
    • 1
  • Michael Komárek
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Geosciences, Faculty of Environmental SciencesCzech University of Life Sciences PraguePrague 6Czech Republic

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