Metagenomic analysis of microbial communities yields insight into impacts of nanoparticle design

Jacob W. Metch, Nathan D. Burrows, Catherine J. Murphy, Amy Pruden, Peter J. Vikesland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Next-generation DNA sequencing and metagenomic analysis provide powerful tools for the environmentally friendly design of nanoparticles. Herein we demonstrate this approach using a model community of environmental microbes (that is, wastewater-activated sludge) dosed with gold nanoparticles of varying surface coatings and morphologies. Metagenomic analysis was highly sensitive in detecting the microbial community response to gold nanospheres and nanorods with either cetyltrimethylammonium bromide or polyacrylic acid surface coatings. We observed that the gold-nanoparticle morphology imposes a stronger force in shaping the microbial community structure than does the surface coating. Trends were consistent in terms of the compositions of both taxonomic and functional genes, which include antibiotic resistance genes, metal resistance genes and gene-transfer elements associated with cell stress that are relevant to public health. Given that nanoparticle morphology remained constant, the potential influence of gold dissolution was minimal. Surface coating governed the nanoparticle partitioning between the bioparticulate and aqueous phases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-259
Number of pages7
JournalNature nanotechnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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