Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Do nanoparticles affect the health of the soil ecosystem?

Abstract:
New research reveals that many microorganisms, including bacteria and protozoa, show little sensitivity to fullerene nanoparticles applied to soil samples. However, fast-growing bacteria decreased in number and the genetic diversity of bacteria and protozoa altered slightly. This could affect the bottom of the food chain, which may have long-term implications for the overall health of the soil ecosystem.

Do nanoparticles affect the health of the soil ecosystem?

Europe | Posted on October 18th, 2008

Nanotechnology collectively describes technology and science which utilises nanoscale particles. Despite their benefits, introduction of nanoparticles into the environment might have significant impacts as they may be extremely resistant to degradation and have the potential to accumulate in bodies of water or in soil.

The study observed the behaviour of C60 fullerenes, also know as 'Bucky Balls', in soil. These are a type of carbon nanomaterial currently used in some cosmetics with expected future use in pharmaceuticals. Other types of carbon nanomaterials have a promising future for use in a range of environmental applications, including environmental sensors, renewable energy technologies and pollution prevention strategies. Laboratory tests on C60 fullerenes provide a good indicator of how other types of carbon nanomaterials will behave in the environment, as they all display similar physical and chemical characteristics.

In water, nanoparticles cluster together to form larger particles, aggregates, which may behave differently when released into the environment. In order to investigate the impact of fullerenes on soil microorganisms, the researchers prepared suspensions of aggregated C60 fullerenes, applied them to soil at varying concentrations and assessed how they affected the growth and diversity of soil dwelling microorganisms over time.

The study demonstrated that microbial biomass and respiration rate (an indication of the activity of soil microorganisms) were unaffected by nanoparticle treatments. Soil protozoans, such as amoeba, were slightly sensitive to nanoparticle applications. However, fast growing bacteria decreased up to 4 fold in number. Protozoa feed on bacteria, so a reduction in bacterial biomass could disrupt the bottom of the food chain in the soil ecosystem. Additionally, the researchers noticed a very small, but persistent, change in the genetic diversity of both the bacterial and protozoan community, caused by the fullerenes.

It is possible that the water-repelling nature of fullerenes means that they limit bacterial growth by adsorbing vitamins and minerals, which are essential for bacterial growth, from the soil.

Interactions between microorganisms in the soil ecosystem are very complicated and the impact of fullerenes on fast-growing bacteria may affect the balance of these interactions and in turn the overall health and function of the soil. Researchers recommend that further studies of the long-term fate of fullerene nanoparticles are needed before they are released into the environment. In addition there are many different types of nanoparticles so the effects of all types should be considered when setting environmental regulations for their release.

####

About European Commission, Environment Directorate-General (DG)
The main role of the European Commission's Environment Directorate-General (DG) is to initiate and define new environmental legislation and to ensure that agreed measures are put into practice in the EU Member States. The Environment DG is based in Brussels and has around 700 staff.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
European Commission
Environment DG
B - 1049 Brussels
Belgium

Copyright © European Commission, Environment Directorate-General (DG)

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Oxford Instruments announces Dr Kate Ross as winner of the 2018 Lee Osheroff Richardson Science Prize for North and South America February 20th, 2018

Computers aid discovery of new, inexpensive material to make LEDs with high color quality February 20th, 2018

Unconventional superconductor may be used to create quantum computers of the future: They have probably succeeded in creating a topological superconductor February 19th, 2018

Photonic chip guides single photons, even when there are bends in the road February 16th, 2018

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Computers aid discovery of new, inexpensive material to make LEDs with high color quality February 20th, 2018

Arrowhead Receives Regulatory Clearance to Begin Phase 1/2 Study of ARO-HBV for Treatment of Hepatitis B February 15th, 2018

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Receives Orphan Drug Designation for ARO-AAT February 15th, 2018

Rutgers-Led Innovation Could Spur Faster, Cheaper, Nano-Based Manufacturing: Scalable and cost-effective manufacturing of thin film devices February 14th, 2018

Announcements

Oxford Instruments announces Dr Kate Ross as winner of the 2018 Lee Osheroff Richardson Science Prize for North and South America February 20th, 2018

Computers aid discovery of new, inexpensive material to make LEDs with high color quality February 20th, 2018

Unconventional superconductor may be used to create quantum computers of the future: They have probably succeeded in creating a topological superconductor February 19th, 2018

Photonic chip guides single photons, even when there are bends in the road February 16th, 2018

Environment

Ultra-efficient removal of carbon monoxide using gold nanoparticles on a molecular support: New method and mechanism for state-of-the-art gas purification February 9th, 2018

New filters could enable manufacturers to perform highly-selective chemical separation January 23rd, 2018

Rice U.'s one-step catalyst turns nitrates into water and air: NSF-funded NEWT Center aims for catalytic converter for nitrate-polluted water January 5th, 2018

'Quantum material' has shark-like ability to detect small electrical signals December 20th, 2017

Safety-Nanoparticles/Risk management

How harmful are nano-copper and anti-fungal combinations in the waterways? October 27th, 2017

Do titanium dioxide particles from orthopedic implants disrupt bone repair? September 16th, 2017

Tests show no nanotubes released during utilisation of nanoaugmented materials June 9th, 2017

NanoMONITOR shares its latest developments concerning the NanoMONITOR Software and the Monitoring stations April 21st, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project