John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Quantum dot nanoparticles affect the reproductive system of Caenorhabditis elegans

Quantum dots (QDs) are an increasingly important class of nanoparticle, but little ecotoxicological data for QDs has been published to date. The effects of mercaptosuccinic acid (MSA)‐capped QDs (QDs‐MSA) and equivalent concentrations of cadmium (Cd) from cadmium chloride on growth and reproduction of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (Rhabditidae) were assessed in laboratory experiments. Growth from larvae to adults of C. elegans was unaffected by exposure to 1 µM fluorescent QDs‐MSA, but adults produced more embryos and laid them prematurely. Furthermore, C. elegans exposed to QDs‐MSA (1 µM) showed a high percentage of embryo mortality (19.2 ± 0.5, p < 0.001, percentage ± standard deviation) compared with unexposed nematodes (11.6 ± 0.4). An egg‐laying defect phenotype was also observed at high frequency in response to 1 µM QDs‐MSA exposure (38.3 ± 3.6%, p < 0.01; control 10.0 ± 2.2%). This resulted in a reduced mean life span (20.5 ± 1.1 d, p < 0.05) compared with the control (24.6 ± 1.0 d). Cadmium also caused reduced life span in C. elegans, but a low incidence of egg‐laying defects was observed, suggesting that Cd and QDs‐MSA affected C. elegans by different mechanisms. Furthermore, egg‐laying defects caused by QDs‐MSA responded to the addition of the anticonvulsant ethosuximide and to a lesser extent to the neurotransmitter serotonin, suggesting that QDs‐MSA might have disrupted motor neurons during the reproduction process. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. © 2012 SETAC

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