Silver Nanoparticles and the Plant-Associating Abilities of Rhizobiaceae Bacteria

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Embleton, Laura
Silver Nanoparticles , Plant Interacting Microbes , Rhizobiaceae , Toxicology
The use of nanoparticle technology in consumer products has been increasing due to their broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties. Specifically, silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) can demonstrate distinct physiochemical properties compared to bulk silver, including a large surface area to volume ratio that allows for higher reactivity with bacterial cell surfaces. AgNPs are being released into the environment, including soil ecosystems through various pathways such as points of production or during disposal of silver-containing products. This raises the concern about the potential impact on beneficial soil bacteria and their surrounding ecosystems. Members of the Rhizobiaceae family play important roles in nutrient cycling and contribute to overall soil fertility and the experiments in this thesis address the potential for AgNP-mediated toxicity on these plant-associating bacteria. Respiration analysis of Bradyrhizobium japonicum, Azospirillum brasilense, and Agrobacterium tumefaciens has revealed that AgNPs can negatively impact the growth and survival of these bacterial species, with B. japonicum being the most susceptible. Additionally, swimming motility assays using B. japonicum showed a significant decrease in colony diameter when treated with AgNPs (50 ppm). A significant decrease in root colonization of Triticum aestivum roots by A. brasilense was observed as AgNP treatment concentrations increased. Although some of the experiments could not be completed, taken together, these experiments and the research reported herein highlights the potential toxicological effects of AgNPs on bacterial species vital to the growth and health of agriculturally important crops.
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