Effect of raw and purified carbon nanotubes and iron oxide nanoparticles on the growth of wheatgrass prepared from the cotyledons of common wheat (triticum aestivum)†
The increase in global production of nanomaterials has raised concern as to their possible effects on plants that could ultimately affect the human population. The effects on the hydroponic growth of wheatgrass of four types of nanomaterials were studied: raw-single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), purified-SWCNTs, multi walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs), and iron oxide nanoparticles (n-FeOx) as a model of the catalyst residue typically present in CNTs. The germination rate (GR), mean germination time (MGT), shoot length, and a visual score of the plants' growth were determined for wheatgrass over the course of two weeks as a function of exposure to the nanomaterials dispersed in either water or THF (as well as appropriate controls). Raw-SWCNTs, MWCNTs, and n-FeOx show little impact suggesting that the catalyst residue (iron oxide) present in CNTs has little effect. Exposure to purified-SWCNTs dispersed in water shows increased GR (and shoot length), while wheatgrass exposed to purified-SWCNT dispersed in THF had retarded GR, suggesting that SWCNTs act as a carrier for adsorbed organic solvents whose effects are detrimental. A similar but lesser effect was observed for MWCNTs. Interestingly raw-SWCNTs showed no solvent effect, suggesting that the reduction of hydrophobicity of the SWCNTs through functionalisation enables the adsorption and subsequent release of harmful organic solvents. The positive effect of purified SWCNTs when dispersed in water is likely a function of their highly hydrophobic nature facilitating enhanced uptake of water.