Effects of Nano-Titanium Dioxide on Freshwater Algal Population Dynamics

Konrad J. Kulacki, Bradley J. Cardinale

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47 Scopus citations


To make predictions about the possible effects of nanomaterials across environments and taxa, toxicity testing must incorporate not only a variety of organisms and endpoints, but also an understanding of the mechanisms that underlie nanoparticle toxicity. Here, we report the results of a laboratory experiment in which we examined how titanium dioxide nanoparticles impact the population dynamics and production of biomass across a range of freshwater algae. We exposed 10 of the most common species of North American freshwater pelagic algae (phytoplankton) to five increasing concentrations of n-TiO2 (ranging from controls to 300 mg n-TiO2 L-1). We then examined the effects of n-TiO2 on the population growth rates and biomass production of each algal species over a period of 25 days. On average, increasing concentrations of n-TiO2 had no significant effects on algal growth rates (p = 0.376), even though there was considerable species-specific variation in responses. In contrast, exposure to n-TiO2 tended to increase maximum biomass achieved by species in culture (p = 0.06). Results suggest that titanium dioxide nanoparticles could influence certain aspects of population growth of freshwater phytoplankton, though effects are unlikely at environmentally relevant concentrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere47130
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 10 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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