Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 26, pp 26991–27001 | Cite as

Toxicity assessment of ZnO nanoparticles to freshwater microalgae Coelastrella terrestris

  • Pallavi Saxena
  • HarishEmail author
Research Article


Commercial usage of ZnO nanoparticles has increased recently due to its versatile applications, raising serious environmental concern because of its ultimate release of nanoparticles in aquatic ecosystem. Therefore, it is important to understand the impact of ZnO nanoparticle toxicity especially on algal flora, which is the primary producer in the aquatic food chain. In the current study, algal growth kinetics was assessed after the exposure of zinc oxide nanoparticles and its bulk counterpart to Coelastrella terrestris (Chlorophyceae). Zinc oxide nanoparticles were found to be more toxic (y = 34.673x, R2 = − 0.101, 1 mg L−1 nanoparticle (NP)) than bulk (y = 50.635x, R2 = 0.173, 1 mg L−1 bulk) by entrapping the algal cell surface. Higher toxicity may be due to oxidative stress within the algal cell as confirmed through biochemical analysis. Biochemical parameters revealed stressful physiological condition in the alga under nanoparticle exposure, as lactate dehydrogenase release (18.89 ± 0.2 NP; 13.67 ± 0.2 bulk), lipid peroxidation (0.9147 ± 1.2 NP; 0.7480 ± 0.8 bulk), and catalase activity (4.77 ± 0.1 NP; 3.32 ± 0.1 bulk) were found higher at 1 mg L−1 in the case of nano-form. Surface adsorptions of nanoparticles were observed by SEM. Cell organelle damage, cell wall breakage, and cytoplasm shrinkage were found as responses under toxic condition through SEM and TEM. Toxicity was found to be influenced by dose concentration and exposure period. This study indicates that nano-form of ZnO is found to be more toxic than bulk form to freshwater alga.


Algae Stress Toxicological effects TEM Zinc oxide nanoparticles 



Analysis of variance


Blue Green-11


Bovine serum albumin




Central drug house


Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy


Lactate dehydrogenase


Malondialdehyde assay


Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide hydrogen


National Center for Biotechnology Information




Phosphate-buffered saline


Polydispersity index


Standard deviation


Scanning electron microscopy


Superoxide dismutase


Transmission electron microscopy




Zinc oxide



We are thankful to the anonymous reviewers for the critical reading of the manuscript and improvement. We wish to acknowledge SAIF, New Delhi, for extending electron microscopy facilities. We are also thankful to Dr. Vinod Saharan, RCA, Udaipur, and Dr. Prabhat Baroliya, MLSU, Udaipur, for providing us DLS and FTIR facilities, respectively.

Funding information

Pallavi Saxena received financial support from the University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi, India, in the form of BSR Meritorious Fellowship (F.25-a/2013-14(BSR)/7-125/2007(BSR)).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_5844_MOESM1_ESM.ppt (282 kb)
ESM 1 (PPT 282 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Plant Biotechnology Laboratory, Department of BotanyMohanlal Sukhadia UniversityUdaipurIndia

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