The influence of ZnO nanoparticle morphology on its toxicity for marine diatoms was evaluated. Four ZnO nanoparticle motifs, possessing distinctive sizes and shapes, were synthesized without adding surfactants. Diameters of ZnO spheres ranged from 6.3. nm to 15.7. nm, and lengths of rod-shaped particles were 242. nm to 862. nm. Their effects on the growth of the marine diatoms, Thalassiosira pseudonana, Chaetoceros gracilis, and Phaeodactylum tricornutum, were determined in laboratory cultures. Between 4.1 and 4.9% of the Zn from all types of nanoparticles dissolved within 72. h and was neither concentration dependent nor morphology dependent. Addition of all nanoparticles at all concentrations tested stopped growth of T. pseudonana and C. gracilis, whereas P. tricornutum was the least sensitive, with its growth rate inversely proportional to nanoparticle concentration. Bioaccumulation of Zn released from nanoparticles in T. pseudonana was sufficient to kill this diatom. The toxicity of rod-shaped particles to P. triocornutum was noted to be greater than that of the spheres. The overall results suggest that toxicity studies assessing the effects of nanoparticles on aquatic organisms need to consider both the dissolution of these particles and the cellular interaction of nanoparticle aggregates. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
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