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Toxicogenomic Responses of the Model Legume Medicago truncatula to Aged Biosolids Containing a Mixture of Nanomaterials (TiO2, Ag, and ZnO) from a Pilot Wastewater Treatment Plant

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posted on 21.07.2015, 00:00 by Chun Chen, Jason M. Unrine, Jonathan D. Judy, Ricky W. Lewis, Jing Guo, David H. McNear, Olga V. Tsyusko
Toxicogenomic responses in Medicago truncatula A17 were monitored following exposure to biosolids-amended soils. Treatments included biosolids produced using a pilot wastewater treatment plant with either no metal introduced into the influent (control); bulk/ionic TiO2, ZnO, and AgNO3 added to influent (bulk/dissolved treatment); or Ag, ZnO, and TiO2 engineered nanomaterials added to influent (ENM treatment) and then added to soil, which was aged in the field for 6 months. In our companion study, we found inhibition of nodulation in the ENM but not in the bulk/dissolved treatment. Gene expression profiling revealed highly distinct profiles with more than 10-fold down-regulation in 239 genes in M. truncatula roots from the ENM treatment, while gene expression patterns were similar between bulk/dissolved and control treatments. In response to ENM exposure, many of the identified biological pathways, gene ontologies, and individual genes are associated with nitrogen metabolism, nodulation, metal homeostasis, and stress responses. Expression levels of nine genes were independently confirmed with qRT-PCR. Exposure to ENMs induced unique shifts in expression profiles and biological pathways compared with bulk/dissolved treatment, despite the lack of difference in bioavailable metal fractions, metal oxidation state, and coordination environment between ENM and bulk/dissolved biosolids. As populations of Sinorhizobium meliloti Rm2011 were similar in bulk/dissolved and ENM treatments, our results suggest that inhibition of nodulation in the ENM treatment was primarily due to phytotoxicity, likely caused by enhanced bioavailability of Zn ions.