Particle number-based trophic transfer of gold nanomaterials in an aquatic food chain

Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh, Latifeh Chupani, Daniel Arenas-Lago, Zhiling Guo, Peng Zhang, Gopala Krishna Darbha, Eugenia Valsami-Jones, Iseult Lynch, Martina G. Vijver, Peter M. van Bodegom, Willie J.G.M. Peijnenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
122 Downloads (Pure)


Analytical limitations considerably hinder our understanding of the impacts of the physicochemical properties of nanomaterials (NMs) on their biological fate in organisms. Here, using a fit-for-purpose analytical workflow, including dosing and emerging analytical techniques, NMs present in organisms are characterized and quantified across an aquatic food chain. The size and shape of gold (Au)-NMs are shown to control the number of Au-NMs attached to algae that were exposed to an equal initial concentration of 2.9 × 10 11 particles mL −1. The Au-NMs undergo size/shape-dependent dissolution and agglomeration in the gut of the daphnids, which determines the size distribution of the NMs accumulated in fish. The biodistribution of NMs in fish tissues (intestine, liver, gills, and brain) also depends on NM size and shape, although the highest particle numbers per unit of mass are almost always present in the fish brain. The findings emphasize the importance of physicochemical properties of metallic NMs in their biotransformations and tropic transfers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number899
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Early online date9 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the H2020-MSCA-IF project BTBnano (grant agreement number 793936). The spICP-MS and scICP-MS work was supported by funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 Programme (H2020) under grant agreement number 720952 (project ACEnano). Additional support came from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic through the CENAKVA project (LM2018099) and the project Sustainable production of healthy fish in various aquaculture systems, PROFISH (CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_019/0000869).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Animals
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Biotransformation
  • Daphnia/metabolism
  • Fishes/metabolism
  • Food Chain
  • Gold/chemistry
  • Microalgae/metabolism
  • Nanostructures/chemistry
  • Particle Size
  • Species Specificity
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical/chemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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