Impact of sulfidation on the bioavailability and toxicity of silver nanoparticles to Caenorhabditis elegans

Daniel L. Starnes, Jason M. Unrine, Catherine P. Starnes, Blanche E. Collin, Emily K. Oostveen, Rui Ma, Gregory V. Lowry, Paul M. Bertsch, Olga V. Tsyusko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Sulfidation is a major transformation product for manufactured silver nanoparticles (Ag-MNPs) in the wastewater treatment process. We studied the dissolution, uptake, and toxicity of Ag-MNP and sulfidized Ag-MNPs (sAg-MNPs) to a model soil organism, Caenorhabditis elegans. Our results show that reproduction was the most sensitive endpoint tested for both Ag-MNPs and sAg-MNPs. We also demonstrate that sulfidation not only decreases solubility of Ag-MNP, but also reduces the bioavailability of intact sAg-MNP. The relative contribution of released Ag+ compared to intact particles to toxicity was concentration dependent. At lower total Ag concentration, a greater proportion of the toxicity could be explained by dissolved Ag, whereas at higher total Ag concentration, the toxicity appeared to be dominated by particle specific effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-246
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Statistical support was provided by the Applied Statistics Lab and the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) at the University of Kentucky . The CCTS is supported by grant number UL1TR000117 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) , funded by the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and supported by the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research .

Funding Information:
Funding for this research was provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) ( RD 834574 ). JU, GL and OT are supported by the U.S. EPA and National Science Foundation (NSF) through cooperative agreement EF-0830093 , Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT) . Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the EPA or NSF. This work has not been subjected to EPA or NSF review, and no official endorsement should be inferred. Caenorhabditis elegans N2 strain was purchased from the Caenorhabditis Genetics Center. Portions of this work were performed a GeoSoilEnviroCARS (Sector 13), Advanced Photon Source (APS), Argonne National Laboratory and PNC/XSD (Sector 20). GeoSoilEnviroCARS is supported by the National Science Foundation-Earth Sciences ( EAR-1128799 ) and Department of Energy-GeoSciences ( DE-FG02-94ER14466 ). PNC/XSD facilities are supported by the US Department of Energy – Basic Energy Sciences , a Major Resources Support grant from NSERC , the University of Washington , the Canadian Light Source and the Advanced Photon Source . Use of the APS was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences , under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd


  • Bioaccumulation
  • Nanotechnology
  • Soil
  • Transformation
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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