, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 802–810 | Cite as

Influence of Silver, Zinc Oxide and Copper Oxide Nanoparticles on the Cyanobacterium Calothrix elenkinii

  • Himanshu Mahawar
  • Radha PrasannaEmail author
  • Shashi Bala Singh
  • Lata Nain


An investigation was undertaken to compare the effect of different concentrations of three metal nanoparticles i.e. silver (Ag), zinc oxide (ZnO) and copper oxide (CuO), on a cyanobacterium Calothrix elenkinii. Chlorophyll accumulation in C. elenkinii acclimatised to Ag NPs after 1 week at concentrations of 0.1 and 0.5 mg L−1, while it reduced at 1.0 mg L−1. A similar trend was recorded with CuO NPs, in terms of protein content with incubation time. Nitrogen-fixing potential also showed a gradual increase with Ag NPs, up to concentrations of 0.2 mg L−1 during incubation of 1 week, but sharply decreased at 0.5 mg L−1 after 48 h. Both the nitrogen-fixing potential and protein content were stimulated in the presence of CuO NPs. ZnO NPs, in general, were not compatible with the growth and metabolic activities of this cyanobacterium. Microscopic studies revealed the aggregation of NPs on the surface of C. elenkinii filaments, resulting in distinct morphological changes, particularly enhanced hormogonia and akinete formation. It is envisaged that with the increase in incubation period, C. elenkinii acclimatised to counteract the effect of Ag and CuO NPs and utilise them for its growth. The adaptive strategies of this cyanobacterium make it an ideal model system for future nanotoxicological studies.


Calothrix Chlorophyll Copper oxide Nanoparticles Silver Zinc oxide 





Zinc oxide


Copper oxide




Funding Information

The study was supported by the University Grants Commission who provided fellowship and the Post Graduate School, ICAR-IARI, who provided the facilities towards the fulfilment of Ph.D. program. The study was also partly funded by the AMAAS Network Project on Microorganisms, granted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, to RP. We are thankful to the Division of Microbiology, Division of Entomology, Division of Plant Pathology and Division of Agricultural Chemicals, ICAR-IARI, New Delhi, for providing necessary facilities for undertaking this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of MicrobiologyICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)New DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Division of Agricultural ChemicalsICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)New DelhiIndia

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