Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Ma, Xingmao


With the recent development of nanotechnology, there has been increased production of engineered nanomaterials but limited containment strategies, resulting in inevitable release of a large amount of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) in the environment. Many ENPs have potential adverse impacts on the environment, and one of the most commonly used ENPs, silver nanoparticle (AgNP), has attracted increased global concern. The current study focused on phytotoxicity of AgNPs to a model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana. Silver nanoparticles were introduced into the growth medium for the wild type A. thaliana plants and root uptake and translocation of AgNPs were examined in hydroponic growth condition. We also conducted growth stage based phenotypic analysis by growing A. thaliana throughout its life cycle in soil. The result indicated that: (1) wild type seeds germination was not affected by either AgNPs or their dissolved Ag+ ions; (2) AgNPs exposure resulted in a concentration- and size- dependent inhibition effect to the root elongation; (3) confocal and electron microscopy indicated that AgNPs could be taken up by seedling roots, yet most of AgNPs attached to the surface of seedling root cap; (4) AgNPs and their dissolved Ag+ ions at tested concentrations had little influence on the vegetative growth of A. thaliana, but they accelerated the floral development; and (5) the effect on the floral development stage reduced the quality of second-generation (F1) seeds, as indicated by their lower germination rate. In conclusion, AgNPs displayed both acute and chronic phytotoxicity to A. thaliana.




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