Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Plant Biology

First Advisor

Geisler, Matthew


The field of nanoecotoxicology has been pioneered in recent years as concern grows in response to the potential environmental hazards of engineered nanoparticle release. Silver nanoparticle (AgNP) release through induction into commercial products as an antimicrobiont is of particular interest. Plausible routes of AgNPs to reach aquatic systems and their biological impacts have been investigated, but none have addressed the potential remediation of these waters using the heavy metal accumulating fern Azolla caroliniana. This study employed biological staining techniques and fluorescence microscopy to identify oxidative stress, wounding responses of cell wall and membrane, and cell death of A. caroliniana roots to assess the capability of this plant to withstand AgNP exposure. Two concentrations series were applied, 0-1.0ppm and 0-10.0ppm for 1, 3, 5 days after transfer (DAT), 0ppm being a control. Oxidative stress, measured in production of non-specific ROS, increased in a dose-dependent manner with increasing AgNP concentration. Callose (1,3-β-glucan) was deposited in response to potential cell wall damage and was also observed to be elevated in a dose-dependent manner. Cell vitality appeared from a general decline in fluorescence of nucleic content to visual nuclei lysis. Statistically significant and severe responses to AgNPs was observed at 1 DAT but recovery could be seen at 3~5 DAT. In sum, these data suggest a toxicity threshold of 1.0ppm at which A. caroliniana roots can mediate exposure.




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