Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 21, pp 22136–22150 | Cite as

Response of three biofilm-forming benthic microorganisms to Ag nanoparticles and Ag+: the diatom Nitzschia palea, the green alga Uronema confervicolum and the cyanobacteria Leptolyngbya sp.

  • A. G. González
  • L. Fernández-Rojo
  • J. Leflaive
  • O. S. Pokrovsky
  • J-L. Rols
Research Article


Although the industrial use of nanoparticles has increased over the past decade, the knowledge about their interaction with benthic phototrophic microorganisms in the environment is still limited. This study aims to characterize the toxic effect of ionic Ag+ and Ag nanoparticles (citrate-coated silver nanoparticles, AgNPs) in a wide concentration range (from 1 to 1000 μg L−1) and duration of exposure (2, 5 and 14 days) on three biofilm-forming benthic microorganisms: diatom Nitzschia palea, green algae Uronema confervicolum and cyanobacteria Leptolyngbya sp. Ag+ has a significant effect on the growth of all three species at low concentrations (1–10 μg L−1), whereas the inhibitory effect of AgNPs was only observed at 1000 μg L−1 and solely after 2 days of exposure. The inhibitory effect of both Ag+ and AgNPs decreased in the course of the experiments from 2 to 14 days, which can be explained by the progressive excretion of the exopolysaccharides and dissolved organic carbon by the microorganisms, thus allowing them to alleviate the toxic effects of aqueous silver. The lower impact of AgNPs on cells compared to Ag+ can be explained in terms of availability, internalization, reactive oxygen species production, dissolved silver concentration and agglomeration of AgNPs. The duration of exposure to Ag+ and AgNPs stress is a fundamental parameter controlling the bioaccumulation and detoxification in benthic phototrophic microorganisms.


AgNPs Ionic silver Growth inhibition Biosorption Complexation Biofilm 



This research was supported by the Midi-Pyrénées Regional Council (France) within the programme Gagilau (No. DAER-R93 90173). Partial support from BIO-GEO-CLIM grant No. 14.B25.31.0001 and ANR CITTOXIC-Nano are also acknowledged. Finally, we thank Katrin Meier for the English revision of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11356_2016_7259_MOESM1_ESM.doc (826 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 826 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. G. González
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • L. Fernández-Rojo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • J. Leflaive
    • 1
    • 2
  • O. S. Pokrovsky
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • J-L. Rols
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Université de ToulouseUPS, INP; EcoLab (Laboratoire Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Environnement)ToulouseFrance
  2. 2.CNRS; EcoLabToulouseFrance
  3. 3.GET (Géosciences Environnement Toulouse) UMR 5563 CNRSToulouseFrance
  4. 4.BIO-GEO-CLIM LaboratoryTomsk State UniversityTomskRussia
  5. 5.Institute of Ecological Problems of the NorthArkhangelskRussia

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