Intergenerational responses of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) to cerium oxide nanoparticles exposure†
The intergenerational impact of engineered nanomaterials in plants is a key knowledge gap in the literature. A soil microcosm study was performed to assess the effects of multi-generational exposure of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) to cerium oxide nanoparticles (CeO2-NPs). Seeds from plants that were exposed to 0, 125, and 500 mg CeO2-NPs kg−1 soil (Ce-0, Ce-125 or Ce-500, respectively) in first generation (S1) were cultivated in factorial combinations of Ce-0, Ce-125 or Ce-500 to produce second generation (S2) plants. The factorial combinations for first/second generation treatments in Ce-125 were S1-Ce-0/S2-Ce-0, S1-Ce-0/S2-Ce-125, S1-Ce-125/S2-Ce-0 and S1-Ce-125/S2-Ce-125, and in Ce-500 were S1-Ce-0/S2-Ce-0, S1-Ce-0/S2-Ce-500, S1-Ce-500/S2-Ce-0 and S1-Ce-500/S2-Ce-500. Agronomic, elemental, isotopic, and synchrotron X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and X-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy (XANES) data were collected on second generation plants. Results showed that plants treated during the first generation only with either Ce-125 or Ce-500 (e.g. S1-Ce-125/S2-Ce-0 or S1-Ce-500/S2-Ce-0) had reduced accumulation of Ce (61 or 50%), Fe (49 or 58%) and Mn (34 or 41%) in roots, and δ15N (11 or 8%) in grains compared to the plants not treated in both generations (i.e. S1-Ce-0/S2-Ce-0). Plants treated in both generations with Ce-125 (i.e. S1-Ce-125/S2-Ce-125) produced grains that had lower Mn, Ca, K, Mg and P relative to plants treated in the second generation only (i.e. S1-Ce-0/S2-Ce-125). In addition, synchrotron XRF elemental chemistry maps of soil/plant thin-sections revealed limited transformation of CeO2-NPs with no evidence of plant uptake or accumulation. The findings demonstrated that first generation exposure of wheat to CeO2-NPs affects the physiology and nutrient profile of the second generation plants. However, the lack of concentration-dependent responses indicate that complex physiological processes are involved which alter uptake and metabolism of CeO2-NPs in wheat.