Do the joint effects of size, shape and ecocorona influence the attachment and physical eco(cyto)toxicity of nanoparticles to algae?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Fazel Abdolahpur Monikh
  • Daniel Arenas-lago
  • Petr Porcal
  • Renato Grillo
  • Martina G. Vijver
  • Willie J. G. M. Peijnenburg

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML), Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands;
  • Department of Physics and Chemistry, School of Engineering, São Paulo State University (UNESP), Ilha Solteira, Brazil;
  • Center for Safety of Substances and Products, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, the Netherlands
  • Institute of Hydrobiology and Soil & Water Research Infrastructure, Biology Centre CAS, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic;


We systematically investigated how the combinations of size, shape and the natural organic matter (NOM)-ecocorona of gold (Au) engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) influence the attachment of the particles to algae and physical toxicity to the cells. Spherical (10, 60 and 100 nm), urchin-shaped (60 nm), rod-shaped (10 × 45, 40 × 60 and 50 × 100 nm), and wire-shaped (75 × 500, 75 × 3000 and 75 × 6000 nm) citrate-coated and NOM-coated Au-ENPs were used. Among the spherical particles only the spherical 10 nm Au-ENPs caused membrane damage to algae. Only the rod-shaped 10 × 45 nm induced membrane damage among the rod-shaped Au-ENPs. Wire-shaped Au-ENPs caused no membrane damage to the algae. NOM ecocorona decreased the membrane damage effects of spherical 10 nm and rod-shaped 10 × 45 nm ENPs. The spherical Au-ENPs were mostly loosely attached to the cells compared to other shapes, whereas the wire-shaped Au-ENPs were mostly strongly attached compared to particles with other shapes. NOM ecocorona determined the strength of Au-ENPs attachment to the cell wall, leading to the formation of loose rather than strong attachment of Au-ENPs to the cells. After removal of the loosely and strongly attached Au-ENPs, some particles remained anchored to the surface of the algae. The highest concentration was detected for spherical 10 nm Au-ENPs followed by rod-shaped 10 × 45 nm Au-ENPs, while the lowest concentration was observed for the wire-shaped Au-ENPs. The combined effect of shape, size, and ecocorona controls the Au-ENPs attachment and physical toxicity to cells.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2019


  • Membrane damage, cellular association, spherical Au-ENPs, spherical Au- ENPs, rod-shaped Au-ENPs