Date of Award

5-1-2013

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Ma, Xingmao

Abstract

Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are currently used in a wide range of manufacturing processes and applications thanks to the numerous technical and economic benefits derived from the incorporation of ENMs in these processes. Accompanying these benefits are the potential toxicity of ENMs to humans and the environment. Previous research has shown that ENMs display strong toxicity to plants. Earlier research suggested that physicochemical properties of ENMs such as their size, shape, and surface properties considerably affect toxicity; however, the unique physicochemical properties of ENMs affect their phytotxicity to plants is still unknown. This research evaluated the phytotoxicity of silver and gold nanoparticles to lettuce plants in both sand and hydroponic conditions by monitoring a wide range of plant physiological parameters after their exposure to these nanoparticles with two coating materials (citrate and polyvinylpyrrolidone) and three shapes (sphere, wire and plate) at 200 and 1000 µg/L concentrations. The result from lettuce in hydroponics showed that spherical silver or gold nanoparticles with both coatings did not affect biomass significantly, but both of silver and gold nanoparticles at 1000 µg/L slightly reduced the biomass compared to the control lettuce. The effect on root leakage was similar, but spherical silver nanoparticles had slightly higher damage due to root leakage than gold nanoparticles at the same concentration. The lettuce treated to citrate-coated gold nanoparticles significantly reduced chlorophyll content compared to citrate-coated silver nanoparticles. Secondly, when it came to the surface coating, the plant exposed to 1000 µg/L spherical citrate- coated silver or gold nanoparticles had higher root leakage compared to PVP-coated nanoparticles. Both of 1000 µg/L spherical citrate-coated silver nanoparticles and gold nanoparticles significantly reduced chlorophyll content compared to PVP-coated nanoparticles. Thirdly, for different shapes of PVP-coated silver nanoparticles, the plant exposed to plate shaped and sphere shaped silver nanoparticles had significantly lower biomass compared to the wire shaped silver nanoparticles. The plant exposed to spherical silver nanoparticles had the lowest chlorophyll content between plate shaped and wire shaped silver nanoparticles. In addition, the result from lettuce in sand medium showed that the biomass production and the root leakage showed no significant difference between spherical citrate-coated, spherical PVP-coated, and silver ions at 200 µg/L. In conclusion, different nanoparticles affected different physiological processes of plants differently.

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