Effects of PVP/PEI coated and uncoated silver NPs and PVP/PEI coating agent on three species of marine microalgae

S. Schiavo, N. Duroudier, E. Bilbao, M. Mikolaczyk, J. Sch�fer, M.P. Cajaraville, S. Manzo

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19 Citations (Scopus)


In the last years, applications for silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) continue to increase together with the concerns about their potential input and hazards in aquatic ecosystems, where microalgae are key organisms. The aim of the present study was to assess the relative sensitivity of three marine microalgae species with differences in cell wall composition/structure exposed to Poly N-vinyl-2-pirrolidone/Polyethyleneimine (PVP/PEI) coated 5 nm Ag NPs and uncoated 47 nm Ag NP. As limited attention has been paid to the role of coating agents in NP toxicity, the effect of PVP/PEI alone was also evaluated. After 72 h in artificial seawater, 47 nm Ag NPs formed around 1400 nm size aggregates while PVP/PEI coated 5 nm Ag NPs reached around 90 nm. Ag+release in seawater was around 3% for 47 nm Ag NPs and 30% for PVP/PEI coated 5 nm Ag NPs. PVP/PEI coated 5 nm Ag NP aggregates entrapped the algal cells in a network of heteroaggregates, while uncoated 47 nm Ag NPs interacted to a lesser extent with algae. The concentration of PVP/PEI coated 5 nm Ag NPs that exerted the median effect (EC50) on algae growth pointed out differences in algae sensitivity: T. suecica was about 10 times more sensitive than I. galbana and P. tricornutum. Further, the coating agent alone was as toxic to algae as PVP/PEI coated 5 nm Ag NPs, suggesting that presence of the coating agent was the main driver of toxicity of coated NPs. Uncoated 47 nm Ag NPs instead, showed similar toxicity towards algae although P. tricornutum was slightly less sensitive than T. suecica and I. galbana, which agrees with the presence of a resistant silicified cell wall in the diatom. The present work demonstrates differences in sensitivity of three marine microalgae, possibly related to their cell surface and size characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45 - 53
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

Cite this

Schiavo, S., Duroudier, N., Bilbao, E., Mikolaczyk, M., Sch�fer, J., Cajaraville, M. P., & Manzo, S. (2017). Effects of PVP/PEI coated and uncoated silver NPs and PVP/PEI coating agent on three species of marine microalgae. Science of the Total Environment, 577, 45 - 53. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.10.051