Pollutants affecting species at the population level generate ecological instability in natural systems. The success of early life stages, such as those of aquatic invertebrates, is highly affected by adverse environmental conditions. Silver released into the environment from emerging nanotechnology represents such a threat. Sediments are sinks for numerous pollutants, which aggregate and/or associate with depositing suspended particles. Deposit feeder such as the annelid Platynereis dumerilii, which has a large associated literature on its development, is an excellent model organism for exposure studies in coastal environments. We exposed eggs, larvae, juveniles and adults of P. dumerilii to various concentrations of citrate (cit-Ag NPs) or humic acid (HA-Ag NPs) capped silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) as well to dissolved Ag (added as AgNO3). We showed that mortality and abnormal development rate increased with younger life stages. While adults and juvenile were the most tolerant life stages, fertilized eggs were highly sensitive to AgNO3, cit-Ag NPs and HA-Ag NPs. Exposures to HA-Ag NPs triggered the highest cute toxicity responses in P. dumerilii and in most cases both Ag NPs were more toxic than AgNO3. Uptake rate of HA-Ag NPs in adult worms was also higher than from other Ag forms, consistent with toxicity to other life stages. The early stages of the life cycle of marine coastal organisms are more affected by Ag NPs than the juvenile or adult life stages, indicating that exposure experiments at the larval level contribute to realistic eco-toxicological studies in aquatic environments.
Additional publication details
Toxicity and accumulation of silver nanoparticles during development of the marine polychaete Platynereis dumerilii