Interaction of Engineered Nanomaterials with Soil Microbiome and Plants: Their Impact on Plant and Soil Health

  • Shams Tabrez Khan
Part of the Sustainable Agriculture Reviews book series (SARV, volume 41)


A large numbe of nanomaterials-based products are being commercially engineered and produced. Many of these engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are disposed in soil in significant quantities. Furthermore, nanomaterials are being specially tailored for use in agriculture as nano-fertilizers, nano-pesticides, and nano-based biosensors. The behavior of ENMs in soil and their persistence depends on their chemical nature and soil characteristics. Furthermore, nanoparticles like silver and zinc oxide possess well-known antimicrobial activities. The presence and persistence of these nanomaterials in soil can alter the quality of the soil microbiome, thus influencing key microbial processes like mineralization, nitrogen fixation and plant growth promoting activities. It is, therefore, extremely important to understand how nanomaterials influence the soil microbiome and associated chemical and biochemical processes. Such investigations will provide necessary information for eventual regulation of the appropriate use of nanomaterials for sustainable agriculture and increased agricultural productivity. This chapter discusses some of these issues.


ENMs Plant microbiome Soil microbiome 


  1. Aitken RJ, Chaudhry MQ, Boxall ABA, Hull M (2006) Manufacture and use of nanomaterials: current status in the UK and global trends. Occup Med 56(5):300–306. Scholar
  2. Berendsen RL, Pieterse CMJ, Bakker PAHM (2012) The rhizosphere microbiome and plant health. Trends Plant Sci 17(8):478–486. Scholar
  3. Berendsen RL, Vismans G, Yu K, Song Y, de Jonge R, Burgman WP, Burmølle M, Herschend J, Bakker PAHM, Pieterse CMJ (2018) Disease-induced assemblage of a plant-beneficial bacterial consortium. ISME J 12(6):1496–1507. Scholar
  4. Berg G, Rybakova D, Grube M, Köberl M (2015) The plant microbiome explored: implications for experimental botany. J Exp Bot 67(4):995–1002. Scholar
  5. Berube DM, Searson EM, Morton TS, Cummings CL (2010) Project on emerging nanotechnologies – consumer product inventory evaluated. Nanotechnol Law Bus 7(2):152–163Google Scholar
  6. Bundschuh M, Filser J, Lüderwald S, McKee MS, Metreveli G, Schaumann GE, Schulz R, Wagner SJESE (2018) Nanoparticles in the environment: where do we come from, where do we go to? Environ Sci Europe 30(1):6. Scholar
  7. Chai H, Yao J, Sun J, Zhang C, Liu W, Zhu M, Ceccanti B (2015) The effect of metal oxide nanoparticles on functional bacteria and metabolic profiles in agricultural soil. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 94(4):490–495. Scholar
  8. Chen L, Wang C, Yang S, Guan X, Zhang Q, Shi M, Yang S-T, Chen C, Chang X-L (2019) Chemical reduction of graphene enhances in vivo translocation and photosynthetic inhibition in pea plants. Environ Sci Nano 6(4):1077–1088. Scholar
  9. Cherchi C, Gu AZ (2010) Impact of titanium dioxide nanomaterials on nitrogen fixation rate and intracellular nitrogen storage in Anabaena variabilis. Environ Sci Technol 44(21):8302–8307. Scholar
  10. De La Torre-Roche R, Hawthorne J, Deng Y, Xing B, Cai W, Newman LA, Wang C, Ma X, White JC (2012) Fullerene-enhanced accumulation of p,p’-DDE in agricultural crop species. Environ Sci Technol 46(17):9315–9323. Scholar
  11. Dimkpa C, McLean J, Britt D, Anderson A (2013) Antifungal activity of ZnO nanoparticles and their interactive effect with a biocontrol bacterium on growth antagonism of the plant pathogen Fusarium graminearum. Biometals 26. Scholar
  12. Elmer W, White JC (2018) The future of nanotechnology in plant pathology. Ann Rev Phytopathol 56(1):111–133. Scholar
  13. Faizan M, Faraz A, Yusuf M, Khan ST, Hayat SJP (2018) Zinc oxide nanoparticle-mediated changes in photosynthetic efficiency and antioxidant system of tomato. Plan Theory 56(2):678–686. Scholar
  14. Fierer N (2017) Embracing the unknown: disentangling the complexities of the soil microbiome. Nat Rev Microbiol 15:579. Scholar
  15. Fitzpatrick CR, Copeland J, Wang PW, Guttman DS, Kotanen PM, Johnson MTJ (2018) Assembly and ecological function of the root microbiome across angiosperm plant species. J Proc Natl Acad Sci 115(6):E1157–E1165. Scholar
  16. Ge Y, Schimel JP, Holden PA (2011) Evidence for negative effects of TiO2 and ZnO nanoparticles on soil bacterial communities. Environ Sci Technol 45(4):1659–1664. Scholar
  17. Gogos A, Moll J, Klingenfuss F, van der Heijden M, Irin F, Green MJ, Zenobi R, Bucheli TDJJN (2016) Vertical transport and plant uptake of nanoparticles in a soil mesocosm experiment. J Nanobiotechnol 14(1):40. Scholar
  18. Gottschalk F, Sonderer T, Scholz RW, Nowack B (2009) Modeled environmental concentrations of engineered nanomaterials (TiO2, ZnO, Ag, CNT, Fullerenes) for different regions. Environ Sci Technol 43(24):9216–9222. Scholar
  19. Grun AL, Straskraba S, Schulz S, Schloter M, Emmerling C (2018) Long-term effects of environmentally relevant concentrations of silver nanoparticles on microbial biomass, enzyme activity, and functional genes involved in the nitrogen cycle of loamy soil. J Environ Sci (China) 69:12–22. Scholar
  20. Grün A-L, Manz W, Kohl YL, Meier F, Straskraba S, Jost C, Drexel R, Emmerling C (2019) Impact of silver nanoparticles (AgNP) on soil microbial community depending on functionalization, concentration, exposure time, and soil texture. Environ Sci Eur 31(1):15. Scholar
  21. Hao Y, Ma C, Zhang Z, Song Y, Cao W, Guo J, Zhou G, Rui Y, Liu L, Xing B (2018) Carbon nanomaterials alter plant physiology and soil bacterial community composition in a rice-soil-bacterial ecosystem. Environ Pollut 232:123–136. Scholar
  22. He Y, Hu R, Zhong Y, Zhao X, Chen Q, Zhu HJNR (2018) Graphene oxide as a water transporter promoting germination of plants in soil. Nano Res 11(4):1928–1937. Scholar
  23. Hernandez-Viezcas JA, Castillo-Michel H, Andrews JC, Cotte M, Rico C, Peralta-Videa JR, Ge Y, Priester JH, Holden PA, Gardea-Torresdey JL (2013) In situ synchrotron X-ray fluorescence mapping and speciation of CeO2 and ZnO nanoparticles in soil cultivated soybean (Glycine max). ACS Nano 7(2):1415–1423. Scholar
  24. Hunter P (2016) Plant microbiomes and sustainable agriculture: deciphering the plant microbiome and its role in nutrient supply and plant immunity has great potential to reduce the use of fertilizers and biocides in agriculture. EMBO Rep 17(12):1696–1699. Scholar
  25. Husen A, Siddiqi KS (2014) Carbon and fullerene nanomaterials in plant system. J Nanobiotechnol 12(1):16. Scholar
  26. Iannone MF, Groppa MD, de Sousa ML, Fernández van Raap MB, Benavides MP (2016) Impact of magnetite iron oxide nanoparticles on wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) development: evaluation of oxidative damage. Environ Exp Bot. 131:77–88. Scholar
  27. Jacoby R, Peukert M, Succurro A, Koprivova A, Kopriva S (2017) The role of soil microorganisms in plant mineral nutrition-current knowledge and future directions. Front Plant Sci 8:1617–1617. Scholar
  28. Jampílek J, Kráľová K (2017) Nanomaterials for delivery of nutrients and growth-promoting compounds to plants. In: Prasad R, Kumar M, Kumar V (eds) Nanotechnology: an agricultural paradigm. Springer, Singapore, pp 177–226. Scholar
  29. Janssen PH (2006) Identifying the dominant soil bacterial taxa in libraries of 16S rRNA and 16S rRNA genes. Appl Environ Microbiol 72(3):1719–1728. Scholar
  30. Jo Y-K, Kim B, Jung G (2009) Antifungal activity of Silver ions and nanoparticles on phytopathogenic fungi. Plant Dis 93. Scholar
  31. Johansen A, Pedersen AL, Jensen KA, Karlson U, Hansen BM, Scott-Fordsmand JJ, Winding A (2008) Effects of C60 fullerene nanoparticles on soil bacteria and protozoans. Environ Toxicol Chem Int J 27(9):1895–1903. Scholar
  32. Judy JD, McNear DH, Chen C, Lewis RW, Tsyusko OV, Bertsch PM, Rao W, Stegemeier J, Lowry GV, McGrath SP, Durenkamp M, Unrine JM (2015) Nanomaterials in biosolids inhibit nodulation, shift microbial community composition, and result in increased metal uptake relative to bulk/dissolved metals. Environ Sci Technol 49(14):8751–8758. Scholar
  33. Karunakaran G, Suriyaprabha R, Manivasakan P, Rajendran V, Kannan N (2014) Influence of Nano and bulk SiO2 and Al2O3 particles on PGPR and soil nutrient contents. Curr Nanosci 10(4):604–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Keller AA, McFerran S, Lazareva A, Suh S (2013) Global life cycle releases of engineered nanomaterials. J Nanopart Res 15(6):1692. Scholar
  35. Khan ST, Musarrat J, Al-Khedhairy AA (2016) Countering drug resistance, infectious diseases, and sepsis using metal and metal oxides nanoparticles: current status. Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces 146:70–83. Scholar
  36. Khan ST, Ahmad J, Ahamed M, Jousset A (2018) Sub-lethal doses of widespread nanoparticles promote antifungal activity in Pseudomonas protegens CHA0. Sci Total Environ 627:658–662. Scholar
  37. Khodakovskaya MV, de Silva K, Nedosekin DA, Dervishi E, Biris AS, Shashkov EV, Galanzha EI, Zharov VP (2011) Complex genetic, photothermal, and photoacoustic analysis of nanoparticle-plant interactions. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108(3):1028–1033. Scholar
  38. Khodakovskaya MV, de Silva K, Biris AS, Dervishi E, Villagarcia H (2012) Carbon nanotubes induce growth enhancement of tobacco cells. ACS Nano 6(3):2128–2135. Scholar
  39. Khodakovskaya MV, Kim BS, Kim JN, Alimohammadi M, Dervishi E, Mustafa T, Cernigla CE (2013) Carbon nanotubes as plant growth regulators: effects on tomato growth, reproductive system, and soil microbial community. Small (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany) 9(1):115–123. Scholar
  40. Khot LR, Sankaran S, Maja JM, Ehsani R, Schuster EW (2012) Applications of nanomaterials in agricultural production and crop protection: a review. Crop Prot 35:64–70. Scholar
  41. Kibbey TCG, Strevett KA (2019) The effect of nanoparticles on soil and rhizosphere bacteria and plant growth in lettuce seedlings. Chemosphere 221:703–707. Scholar
  42. Klaine SJ, Alvarez PJJ, Batley GE, Fernandes TF, Handy RD, Lyon DY, Mahendra S, McLaughlin MJ, Lead JR (2008) Nanomaterials in the environment: Behavior, fate, bioavailability, and effects. Environ Toxicol Chem 27(9):1825–1851. Scholar
  43. Kreyling WG, Semmler-Behnke M, Chaudhry Q (2010) A complementary definition of nanomaterial. Nano Today 5(3):165–168. Scholar
  44. Lamsal K, Kim SW, Jung JH, Kim YS, Kim KS, Lee YS (2011) Application of Silver nanoparticles for the control of Colletotrichum species in vitro and pepper anthracnose disease in field. Mycobiology 39. Scholar
  45. Lin S, Reppert J, Hu Q, Hudson JS, Reid ML, Ratnikova TA, Rao AM, Luo H, Ke PC (2009) Uptake, translocation, and transmission of carbon nanomaterials in Rice. Plan Theory 5(10):1128–1132. Scholar
  46. Liu J, Williams PC, Geisler-Lee J, Goodson BM, Fakharifar M, Peiravi M, Chen D, Lightfoot DA, Gemeinhardt ME (2018) Impact of wastewater effluent containing aged nanoparticles and other components on biological activities of the soil microbiome, Arabidopsis plants, and earthworms. Environ Res 164:197–203. Scholar
  47. Lugtenberg B, Kamilova F (2009) Plant-growth-promoting rhizobacteria. Annu Rev Microbiol 63:541–556. Scholar
  48. Mahakham W, Sarmah AK, Maensiri S, Theerakulpisut P (2017) Nanopriming technology for enhancing germination and starch metabolism of aged rice seeds using phytosynthesized silver nanoparticles. Sci Rep 7(1):8263. Scholar
  49. Moll J, Klingenfuss F, Widmer F, Gogos A, Bucheli TD, Hartmann M, van der Heijden MGA (2017) Effects of titanium dioxide nanoparticles on soil microbial communities and wheat biomass. Soil Biol Biochem 111:85–93. Scholar
  50. Novikov LS, Voronina EN (2017) Potential space applications of nanomaterials. In: Protection of materials and structures from the space environment. Springer, Cham, pp 139–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Panke-Buisse K, Poole AC, Goodrich JK, Ley RE, Kao-Kniffin J (2014) Selection on soil microbiomes reveals reproducible impacts on plant function. ISME J 9:980. Scholar
  52. Pérez-de-Luque A (2017) Interaction of nanomaterials with plants: what do we need for real applications in agriculture? Front Environ Sci 5(12).
  53. Perez-Jaramillo JE, Mendes R, Raaijmakers JM (2016) Impact of plant domestication on rhizosphere microbiome assembly and functions. Plant Mol Biol 90(6):635–644. Scholar
  54. Pérez-Jaramillo JE, Carrión VJ, Bosse M, Ferrão LFV, de Hollander M, Garcia AAF, Ramírez CA, Mendes R, Raaijmakers JM (2017) Linking rhizosphere microbiome composition of wild and domesticated Phaseolus vulgaris to genotypic and root phenotypic traits. ISME J 11:2244. Scholar
  55. Piccinno F, Gottschalk F, Seeger S, Nowack B (2011) Industrial production quantities and uses of ten engineered nanomaterials in Europe and the world. J Nanoparti Res:14.
  56. Prakash O, Sharma R, Rahi P, Karthikeyan N (2015) Role of microorganisms in plant nutrition and health. In: Rakshit A, Singh HB, Sen A (eds) Nutrient use efficiency: from basics to advances. Springer, New Delhi, pp 125–161. Scholar
  57. Priester JH, Ge Y, Mielke RE, Horst AM, Moritz SC, Espinosa K, Gelb J, Walker SL, Nisbet RM, An Y-J, Schimel JP, Palmer RG, Hernandez-Viezcas JA, Zhao L, Gardea-Torresdey JL, Holden PA (2012) Soybean susceptibility to manufactured nanomaterials with evidence for food quality and soil fertility interruption. J Proc Natl Acad Sci 109(37):E2451–E2456. Scholar
  58. Radniecki TS, Stankus DP, Neigh A, Nason JA, Semprini L (2011) Influence of liberated silver from silver nanoparticles on nitrification inhibition of Nitrosomonas europaea. Chemosphere 85(1):43–49. Scholar
  59. Santhanam R, Luu VT, Weinhold A, Goldberg J, Oh Y, Baldwin IT (2015) Native root-associated bacteria rescue a plant from a sudden-wilt disease that emerged during continuous cropping. J Proc Natl Acad Sci 112(36):E5013–E5020. Scholar
  60. Savi GD, Piacentini KC, de Souza SR, Costa ME, Santos CM, Scussel VM (2015) Efficacy of zinc compounds in controlling Fusarium head blight and deoxynivalenol formation in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Int J Food Microbiol 205:98–104. Scholar
  61. Sekhon BS (2014) Nanotechnology in agri-food production: an overview. Nanotechnol Sci Appl 7:31–53. Scholar
  62. Sergaki C, Lagunas B, Lidbury I, Gifford ML, Schäfer P (2018) Challenges and approaches in microbiome research: from fundamental to applied. Front Plant Sci 9:1205–1205. Scholar
  63. Servin A, Elmer W, Mukherjee A, De la Torre-Roche R, Hamdi H, White JC, Bindraban P, Dimkpa C (2015a) A review of the use of engineered nanomaterials to suppress plant disease and enhance crop yield. J Nanoparti Res 17(2):92. Scholar
  64. Servin A, Elmer W, Mukherjee A, De La Torre Roche R, Hamdi H, White JC, Bindraban P, Dimkpa C (2015b) A review of the use of engineered nanomaterials to suppress plant disease and enhance crop yield. J Nanoparti Res 17.
  65. Simonin M, Cantarel AAM, Crouzet A, Gervaix J, Martins JMF, Richaume A (2018) Negative effects of copper oxide nanoparticles on carbon and nitrogen cycle microbial activities in contrasting agricultural soils and in presence of. Plan Theory 9(3102).
  66. Singh J, Lee B-K (2016) Influence of nano-TiO2 particles on the bioaccumulation of Cd in soybean plants (Glycine max): a possible mechanism for the removal of Cd from the contaminated soil. J Environ Manag 170:88–96. Scholar
  67. Sonkar SK, Roy M, Babar DG, Sarkar S (2012) Water soluble carbon nano-onions from wood wool as growth promoters for gram plants. Nanoscale 4(24):7670–7675. Scholar
  68. Stampoulis D, Sinha S, C White J (2009) Assay-dependent phytotoxicity of nanoparticles to plants. Environ Sci Technol 43. Scholar
  69. Sun TY, Gottschalk F, Hungerbühler K, Nowack B (2014a) Comprehensive probabilistic modelling of environmental emissions of engineered nanomaterials. Environ Pollut 185:69–76. Scholar
  70. Sun Z, Liao T, Dou Y, Hwang SM, Park M-S, Jiang L, Kim JH, Dou SX (2014b) Generalized self-assembly of scalable two-dimensional transition metal oxide nanosheets. Nat Commun 5:3813.
  71. Tumburu L, Andersen CP, Rygiewicz PT, Reichman JR (2017) Molecular and physiological responses to titanium dioxide and cerium oxide nanoparticles in Arabidopsis. Environ Toxicol Chem 36(1):71–82. Scholar
  72. Wang X, Liu X, Chen J, Han H, Yuan Z (2014) Evaluation and mechanism of antifungal effects of carbon nanomaterials in controlling plant fungal pathogen. Carbon 68:798–806. Scholar
  73. Wang X, Yang X, Chen S, Li Q, Wang W, Hou C, Gao X, Wang L, Wang S (2016) Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles Affect Biomass Accumulation and Photosynthesis in Arabidopsis. Front Plant Sci 6(1243).
  74. Wu H, Tito N, Giraldo JP (2017) Anionic cerium oxide nanoparticles protect plant photosynthesis from abiotic stress by scavenging reactive oxygen species. ACS Nano 11(11):11283–11297. Scholar
  75. Yang H, Huang X, Thompson JR, Flower RJ (2014) Soil pollution: urban brownfields. Science 344(6185):691–692. Scholar
  76. Yehia E-T, Joner E (2012) Impact of Fe and Ag nanoparticles on seed germination and differences in bioavailability during exposure in aqueous suspension and soil. Environ Toxicol 27. Scholar
  77. Yuan Z, Zhang Z, Wang X, Li L, Cai K, Han H (2017) Novel impacts of functionalized multi-walled carbon nanotubes in plants: promotion of nodulation and nitrogenase activity in the rhizobium-legume system. Nanoscale 9(28):9921–9937. Scholar
  78. Zhang L, Wu L, Si Y, Shu K (2018) Size-dependent cytotoxicity of silver nanoparticles to Azotobacter vinelandii: growth inhibition, cell injury, oxidative stress and internalization. PLoS One 13(12):e0209020–e0209020. Scholar
  79. Zhu Y, Xu F, Liu Q, Chen M, Liu X, Wang Y, Sun Y, Zhang L (2019) Nanomaterials and plants: positive effects, toxicity and the remediation of metal and metalloid pollution in soil. Sci Total Environ 662:414–421. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shams Tabrez Khan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural Microbiology, Faculty of Agricultural SciencesAligarh Muslim UniversityAligarhIndia

Personalised recommendations