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March 14th, 2007
Microbes survive in soil with fullerenes
Natural settings may diminish the high toxicity of fullerenes or C60 nanoparticles to soil-dwelling microbes, according to new results published today on Environmental Science & Technology's Research ASAP website ("Impact of Fullerene (C60) on a Soil Microbial Community "). The findings contradict previous studies, which have shown that the nanoparticles are lethal in more unsoiled settings.
The new experiments, conducted under some of the most realistic conditions yet with microbes in soil, come from a team led by Ron Turco of Purdue University. The researchers exposed soil microbes to relatively high concentrations of C60 (1000 parts per million) both in dry form and in an aqueous suspension with tetrahydrofuran. They also exposed the microbes to tetrahydrofuran alone. This solvent is typically used in lab experiments to suspend C60 because the particles are not soluble in water at room temperature. The team incubated their C60 concoctions in real soil samples taken from corn plots northwest of the Purdue campus.
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