The combined toxicity and mechanism of multi-walled carbon nanotubes and nano copper oxide toward freshwater algae: Tetradesmus obliquus

Zhe Cai , Rong Fang , Jilai Gong , Weicheng Cao , Zengping Chen , Danlian Huang , Jun Ye


Received March 30, 2021,Revised , Accepted May 13, 2021, Available online June 11, 2021

Volume 34,2022,Pages 376-387

Nanoparticles (NPs) are widely used for their special physical properties and released into the natural environment. When two types of NPs exist in the same environment, the presence of one type of NP may affect the properties of the other type of NP. This study investigated the toxic effects of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and copper oxide nanoparticles (CuO NPs) on Tetradesmus obliquus. Both NPs had toxic effects on algae, and the toxic effects of MWCNTs were significantly stronger than CuO NPs which the 96-hr median effective concentration to algae were 33.8 and 169.2 mg/L, respectively. Oxidative stress and cell membrane damage were the main reasons for the toxicity of NPs to algae, and they were concentration-dependent, and the existence of CuO NPs in some groups reduced cell membrane damage caused by MWCNTs which may because that CuO NPs formed heteroaggregation with MWCNTs, reducing the contact of nanoparticles with cell membranes, then reducing physical damage. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscope (TEM) results indicated cell damage, the heteroaggregation of MWCNTs-CuO NPs and obvious nanoparticles internalization. In some groups, the presence of CuO NPs significantly reduced reactive oxygen species (ROS) level induced by MWCNTs. However, for the highest concentration group, the ROS level was much higher than that of the two NPs alone treatment groups, which might be related to the high concentration of MWCNTs promoting the internalization of CuO NPs. MWCNTs and CuO NPs affected and interacted with each other, causing more complex toxic effects on aquatic organisms.

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