John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Effects of titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles on Caribbean reef‐building coral (Montastraea faveolata)

The increase in the use of manufactured titanium dioxide nanoparticles (nano‐TiO2) is causing the rise of their concentration in the aquatic environment, including coral reef ecosystems. Caribbean mountainous star coral (Montastraea faveolata) has frequently been used as model species to study gene expression during stress and bleaching events. The specimens of M. faveolata were collected in Panama and exposed for 17 days to TiO2 nanoparticle suspension (0.1 mg L−1, and 10 mg L−1). The exposure to nano‐TiO2 caused significant zooxanthellae expulsion in all the colonies without mortality. Induction of the gene for heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) was observed during early stage of exposure (day 2), indicating acute stress. However, there was no statistical difference in the HSP70 expression on day 7 or 17, indicating possible coral acclimation and recovery from stress. No other genes were significantly upregulated. ICP‐MS analysis revealed that nano‐TiO2 was predominantly trapped and stored within the posterior layer of coral fragment (burrowing sponges, bacterial, and fungal mats). Bioconcentration factor in posterior layer was close to 600 after exposure to10 mg L−1 of nano‐TiO2 for 17 days. The transient increase of the HSP70, expulsion of zooxanthellae, and bioaccumulation of nano‐TiO2 in the microflora of the coral colony indicates potential of such exposure to induce stress and possibly contribute to overall decrease of the coral populations. Environ Toxicol Chem © 2014 SETAC

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