NanoUniCell, A comparative study of the effects of metal and semiconductor nanoparticles on two unicellular eukaryotic organisms

(Dr. M. Mortimer, Prof. V. Slaveykova, in collaboration with Dr. A. Kahru, National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics, Estonia)

Understanding the environmental impact of engineered nanomaterials has become an active area of research over the past years due to their industrial-scale production and unavoidable discharge into landfills and entrance to ecosystems including the food chain. Research in this area is still insufficient for a complete environmental risk assessment. This project seeks to examine the interactions of two major aquatic organisms, algae (Chlamydomonas reinhardtii) and protozoa (Tetrahymena thermophila), with gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) and quantum dots (QD), two classes of nanomaterials extensively studied for their biomedical applications in in vivo imaging, targeting and diagnostics. Considering that the use of NPs for biological applications is optimized to maximize their excretion from the body, an obvious question raises about the potential environmental impact of the NPs after their release to the environment (1). In this study the aspects of the fate, behavior and toxicity induced by the engineered NPs of diverse physical properties and physico-chemistry in the organisms will be studied.

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