, Volume 256, Issue 1, pp 69–78 | Cite as

Titanium dioxide nanoparticles impaired both photochemical and non-photochemical phases of photosynthesis in wheat

  • Maria Celeste Dias
  • Conceição Santos
  • Glória Pinto
  • Artur M. S. Silva
  • Sónia SilvaEmail author
Original Article


Titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2-NP) are increasingly being proposed for nanoagriculture but their effect on photosynthesis is limited and contradictory, mostly regarding putative chronical effects associated to the exposure to the commercial P25 formulation (anatase:rutile). This research aims at evaluating how chronical exposure to P25-NP affect photosynthetic processes in Triticum aestivum. Wheat plants were exposed (from the germination stage) to 0, 5, 50, and 150 mg L−1 P25-NP for 20 days. P25-NP impaired both light-dependent and -independent phases of photosynthesis, decreased chlorophyll a content, maximal and effective efficiency of PSII, net photosynthetic rate, transpiration rate, stomatal conductance, intercellular CO2 concentration, and starch content. On the other hand, no effects were observed in photochemical and in non-photochemical quenching values, on total soluble sugar (TSS) content or in RuBisCO activity. Our results support that the induced decay in chlorophyll a content compromised the electron transport through PSII and that stomatal limitations impaired CO2 assimilation. The decline of starch content seems to be a consequence of its degradation as a mechanism to maintain the TSS levels. Consequently, we propose that photosynthetic related endpoints are sensitive and valuable biomarkers to assess TiO2-NP toxicity.


Net photosynthetic rate PSII photochemical efficiency Phytotoxicity TiO2 nanoparticles 


Chl a(b)

Chlorophyll a(b)




Intercellular CO2 concentration


Transpiration rate


Maximal fluorescence yield of dark-adapted state


Maximal fluorescence yield of light-adapted state


Photosystem II (PSII) maximum efficiency


Minimal fluorescence yield of dark-adapted state


Stomatal conductance


Non-photochemical quenching


Net photosynthetic rate


Photochemical quenching


PSII effective photochemical efficiency


Relative water content


Total soluble sugars



The Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT/MCT) supported S. Silva (SFRH/BPD/74299/2010), M. C. Dias (SFRH/BPD/100865/2014), and G. Pinto (SFRH/BPD/101669/2014) grants from QREN–POPH/FSE—Tipologia 4.1—Formação Avançada. This work was financed by FCT/MEC through national founds, and the co-funding by the FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020, within the projects CEF (UID/BIA/04004/2013), CESAM (UID/AMB/50017), QOPNA (UID/QUI/00062/2013), and LAQV/REQUIMTE (PT2020 UID/QUI/50006/2013, POCI/01/0145/FEDER/007265).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

709_2018_1281_MOESM1_ESM.docx (88 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 88 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry and QOPNAUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Life Sciences and CFE, Faculty of Sciences and TechnologiesUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  3. 3.Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, LAQV/REQUIMTEUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  4. 4.Department BiologyUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal
  5. 5.CESAMUniversity of AveiroAveiroPortugal

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