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Effects of silver nanoparticles to the freshwater snail Physa acuta: The role of test media and snails' life cycle stage

Journal article
Authors Sandra F. Gonçalves
Maria D. Pavlaki
Rafael Lopes
Julia Hammes
Julian A. Gallego-Urrea
Martin Hassellöv
Kerstin Jurkschat
Alison Crossley
Susana Loureiro
Published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Volume 36
Issue 1
Pages 243–253
ISSN 0730-7268
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
Pages 243–253
Language en
Keywords Silver nanoparticles, Silver ions, Physa acuta, chloride, Test media, Life cycle
Subject categories Environmental toxicology


Silver nanoparticles (AgNP) are highly used worldwide, which will most likely lead to their release to the environment and subsequently increase environmental concentrations. Therefore studying AgNPs' deleterious effects to organisms is crucial to understand their environmental impacts. The freshwater snail Physa acuta was chosen to evaluate the potential deleterious effects of AgNP and counterpart AgNO3, through water only exposures. AgNPs' toxicity is greatly influenced by medium composition. Thus, two test media were tested: Artificial Pond Water (APW) and modified APW (modified by removing calcium chloride from medium). Acute tests (96h) were performed with juvenile and adult snails, in both media, to assess lethality, and egg mass chronic tests, with APW medium only, to assess embryo viability and mortality, carried out until reaching 90% hatching success in the control. Acute toxicity increased with decreasing shell length for both silver forms (ion and nanoparticle), i.e. juveniles where more sensitive than adults. Different test media led to dissimilar LC50 values, with chloride playing an important role in toxicity, most probably by complexation with silver ions and thus reducing silver's bioavailability, uptake and toxicity. Chronic tests showed that hatching success was more sensitive to silver in the ionic form than in the particulate form. Different forms of silver, exposure media and life cycle stages led to different patterns of toxicity, highlighting an impairment in the snails' life cycle.

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