Comparing plant-insect trophic transfer of Cu from lab-synthesised nano-Cu(OH)2 with a commercial nano-Cu(OH)2 fungicide formulation

Jieran Li, Sónia Rodrigues, Olga V. Tsyusko, Jason M. Unrine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


To examine whether studies conducted with highly purified, laboratory-synthesised nanomaterials are predictive of behaviour of commercial nanopesticide formulations, we studied the trophic transfer of Cu(OH)2 manufactured nanomaterials (MNMs) by tobacco hornworms (Manduca sexta) feeding on surface-treated tomato leaves (Solanum lycopersicum). We compared laboratory-synthesised copper(II) hydroxide (Cu(OH)2) nanowire with the widely used fungicide Kocide® 3000, whose active ingredient is nano-needles of copper(II) hydroxide (nCu(OH)2). All leaves were treated at rates in accordance with the product label (1.5 kg ha-1 or 150 mg m-2). As a control, we used highly soluble CuSO4. Over the course of the study (exposure up to 7 days followed by up to 20 days of elimination), hornworms accumulated Cu from all three treatments far exceeding controls (ranging from ∼55 to 105 times greater for nCu(OH)2 and CuSO4 respectively). There were also significant differences in accumulation of Cu among treatments, with the greatest accumulation in the CuSO4 treatment (up to 105 ± 18 μg Cu per g dry mass) and the least in the nCu(OH)2 treatment (up to 55 ± 12 μg Cu per g dry mass. The difference in their toxicity and accumulation and elimination dynamics was found to be correlated with the solubility of the materials in the exposure suspensions (r2 = 0.99). We also found that first-instar larvae are more susceptible to toxicity from all forms of Cu than second-instar larvae. Our results provide valuable knowledge on whether the ecotoxicity of commercial MNM products such as Kocide can be compared with laboratory-synthesised counterparts and suggests that predictions can be made based on functional assays such as measurement of solubility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-418
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by the EU FP7 ERA-NET on Nanosafety, Safe Implementation of Innovative Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (SIINN) project, NanoFARM, through US National Science Foundation grant CBET-1530594. The authors gratefully acknowledge Shristi Shrestha. Thanks are due for the financial support to CESAM (UID/AMB/50017 – POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007638), to Portuguese FCT/MCTES through national funds (PIDDAC), and the co-funding by the FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020, (project references in Portugal: SIINN/0001/2014 (NanoFarm) and POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016749-PTDC/ AGR-PRO/6262/2014) (NanoFertil)). S. M. Rodrigues acknowledges the financial support of FCT (Project IF/01637/2013). S. M. Rodrigues also acknowledges support from S. Rodrigues, S. Lopes, A. C. Estrada and T. Trindade (Department of Chemistry, Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal) in the synthesis and characterisation of Cu(OH)2 materials.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 CSIRO.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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