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Toxicity of silver nanoparticles against bacteria, yeast, and algae

Abstract

The toxicity mechanism employed by silver nanoparticles against microorganisms has captivated scientists for nearly a decade and remains a debatable issue. The question most frequently asked is whether silver nanoparticles exert specific effects on microorganisms beyond the well-documented antimicrobial activity of Ag+. Here, we study the effects of citrate- (d = 17.5 ± 9.4 nm) and 11-mercaptoundecanoic acid (d = 38.8 ± 3.6 nm)-capped silver nanoparticles on microorganisms belonging to various genera. The antimicrobial effect of Ag+ was distinguished from that of nanosilver by monitoring microbial growth in the presence and absence of nanoparticles and by careful comparison of the responses of equimolar silver nitrate solution. The results show that when using equimolar silver solutions, silver nitrate has higher toxic potential on all microorganisms than both nanoparticles tested. Furthermore, some microorganisms are more susceptible to silver than others and the choice of capping agent is relevant in the toxicity. Atomic force microscopy disclosed that AgNO3 had a destructive effect on algae. The antimicrobial activity of nanosilver could be exploited to prevent microbial colonization of medical devices and to determine the fate of nanoparticles in the environment.

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Acknowledgments

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the NRC-NSERC-EC-BDC Nanotechnology Initiative Grant.

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Correspondence to Loredana S. Dorobantu.

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Dorobantu, L.S., Fallone, C., Noble, A.J. et al. Toxicity of silver nanoparticles against bacteria, yeast, and algae. J Nanopart Res 17, 172 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11051-015-2984-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11051-015-2984-7

Keywords

  • Silver nanoparticles
  • Bacteria
  • Yeast
  • Algae
  • Physicochemical characterization
  • Environmental and health effects