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Fate of ZnO Nanoparticles in Soils and Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata)

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journal contribution
posted on 03.12.2013 by Peng Wang, Neal W. Menzies, Enzo Lombi, Brigid A. McKenna, Bernt Johannessen, Chris J. Glover, Peter Kappen, Peter M. Kopittke
The increasing use of zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) in various commercial products is prompting detailed investigation regarding the fate of these materials in the environment. There is, however, a lack of information comparing the transformation of ZnO-NPs with soluble Zn2+ in both soils and plants. Synchrotron-based techniques were used to examine the uptake and transformation of Zn in various tissues of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.) exposed to ZnO-NPs or ZnCl2 following growth in either solution or soil culture. In solution culture, soluble Zn (ZnCl2) was more toxic than the ZnO-NPs, although there was substantial accumulation of ZnO-NPs on the root surface. When grown in soil, however, there was no significant difference in plant growth and accumulation or speciation of Zn between soluble Zn and ZnO-NP treatments, indicating that the added ZnO-NPs underwent rapid dissolution following their entry into the soil. This was confirmed by an incubation experiment with two soils, in which ZnO-NPs could not be detected after incubation for 1 h. The speciation of Zn was similar in shoot tissues for both soluble Zn and ZnO-NPs treatments and no upward translocation of ZnO-NPs from roots to shoots was observed in either solution or soil culture. Under the current experimental conditions, the similarity in uptake and toxicity of Zn from ZnO-NPs and soluble Zn in soils indicates that the ZnO-NPs used in this study did not constitute nanospecific risks.

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