Impacts of silver nanoparticles on bacterial species B. subtilis and E. coli and the major crop plant Z. mays

Doody, Michael A.
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University of Delaware
This thesis examines the impacts of citrate-coated silver nanoparticles (c-AgNPs) on two species of bacteria (Bacillus subtilis and Escherichia coli ), the major crop plant Zea mays, and the beneficial plant-microbe relationship between Z. mays and B. subtilis. AgNPs are an increasing component of antimicrobial consumer, industrial, and military products. This has led to widespread scientific concern for the ecological safety outside their intended use. An overview of their history, use, and toxicity was used to inform the design of experiments and resulting data. Growth inhibition and sub-lethal toxic effects were used to assess the effects of c-AgNP exposure to bacteria. Similar analytical methods were used to quantify the response of Z. mays to c-AgNP exposure. Results showed that exposure to c-AgNP significantly reduced the growth of bacterial populations and alters their growth kinetics. Z. mays experienced significant sub-lethal effects due to exposure, including reduced root length and biomass, and hyper-accumulated Ag in root tissues. Beneficial interactions between B. subtilis and Z. mays were reduced as both species suffered sub-lethal effects of exposure to c-AgNPs.