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Novel understanding of toxicity in a life cycle perspective –: the mechanisms that lead to population effect : the case of Ag (nano)materials

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Silver (Ag) is amongst the most well studied nanomaterials (NMs), although most studies have only dealt with a single AgNM at a time and one biological endpoint. We here integrate the results of various testing-tools (endpoints) using a terrestrial worm, the standard ecotoxicological model organism Enchytraeus crypticus. Exposure spanned both water and soil exposure, it covered all life stages (cocoons, juveniles and adults), varying exposure durations (1-2-3-4-5-21 days), and covered 5 biological endpoints: hatching success, survival, reproduction, avoidance and gene expression (qPCR target genes GABA and Acetyl cholinesterase). We tested 4 Ag materials: PVP coated (PVP-AgNM), non-coated (NC-AgNM), the JRC reference Ag NM300K and AgNO3. Results showed that short-term exposure via water to assess impact on cocoons’ hatching predicted longer term effects such as survival and reproduction. Moreover, if we extended the exposure from 11 to 17 day this allowed discrimination between hatch delay and impairment. Exposure of juveniles and adults via water showed that juveniles were most sensitive with survival affected. Across materials the following toxic ranking was observed: AgNO3 ≥ Ag NM300K ≫ NC-AgNM ≥ PVP-AgNM. E. crypticus avoided AgNO3 in a dose-response manner, avoiding most during the first 24 h. Avoidance of Ag NM300K and NC-AgNM only occurred during the first 24 h and the PVP coated AgNM were not avoided at all. The up-regulation of the GABA triggering anesthetic effects, indicated the high ecological impact of Ag materials in soil: Ag affects the GABAergic system hence organisms were not able to efficiently avoid and became intoxicated, this caused impacts in terms of survival and reproduction. Multi-endpoint approach advances the understanding of effects of (nano)materials: towards a mechanistic based risk assessment strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114277
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

    Research areas

  • Avoidance, Gene expression, Hatching, Reproduction, Safety-by-design, Survival

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