Distinct transcriptomic responses of Caenorhabditis elegans to pristine and sulfidized silver nanoparticles

Daniel L. Starnes, Stuart S. Lichtenberg, Jason M. Unrine, Catherine P. Starnes, Emily K. Oostveen, Gregory V. Lowry, Paul M. Bertsch, Olga V. Tsyusko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Manufactured nanoparticles (MNP) rapidly undergo aging processes once released from products. Silver sulfide (Ag2S) is the major transformation product formed during the wastewater treatment process for Ag-MNP. We examined toxicogenomic responses of pristine Ag-MNP, sulfidized Ag-MNP (sAg-MNP), and AgNO3 to a model soil organism, Caenorhabditis elegans. Transcriptomic profiling of nematodes which were exposed at the EC30 for reproduction for AgNO3, Ag-MNP, and sAg-MNP resulted in 571 differentially expressed genes. We independently verified expression of 4 genes (numr-1, rol-8, col-158, and grl-20) using qRT-PCR. Only 11% of differentially expressed genes were common among the three treatments. Gene ontology enrichment analysis also revealed that Ag-MNP and sAg-MNP had distinct toxicity mechanisms and did not share any of the biological processes. The processes most affected by Ag-MNP relate to metabolism, while those processes most affected by sAg-MNP relate to molting and the cuticle, and the most impacted processes for AgNO3 exposed nematodes was stress related. Additionally, as observed from qRT-PCR and mutant experiments, the responses to sAg-MNP were distinct from AgNO3 while some of the effects of pristine MNP were similar to AgNO3, suggesting that effects from Ag-MNP is partially due to dissolved silver ions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-321
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd.


  • Antimicrobial
  • Nanomaterial
  • Soil
  • Toxicogenomics
  • Wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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