Ecotoxicological effects of carbon nanotubes and cellulose nanofibers in Chlorella vulgaris

J Nanobiotechnology. 2014 Apr 22;12:15. doi: 10.1186/1477-3155-12-15.


Background: MWCNT and CNF are interesting NPs that possess great potential for applications in various fields such as water treatment, reinforcement materials and medical devices. However, the rapid dissemination of NPs can impact the environment and in the human health. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the MWCNT and cotton CNF toxicological effects on freshwater green microalgae Chlorella vulgaris.

Results: Exposure to MWCNT and cotton CNF led to reductions on algal growth and cell viability. NP exposure induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and a decreased of intracellular ATP levels. Addition of NPs further induced ultrastructural cell damage. MWCNTs penetrate the cell membrane and individual MWCNTs are seen in the cytoplasm while no evidence of cotton CNFs was found inside the cells. Cellular uptake of MWCNT was observed in algae cells cultured in BB medium, but cells cultured in Seine river water did not internalize MWCNTs.

Conclusions: Under the conditions tested, such results confirmed that exposure to MWCNTs and to cotton CNFs affects cell viability and algal growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cellulose / analysis
  • Cellulose / toxicity*
  • Chlorella vulgaris / drug effects*
  • Chlorella vulgaris / physiology*
  • Chlorella vulgaris / ultrastructure
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Nanofibers / analysis
  • Nanofibers / toxicity*
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / analysis
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / toxicity*
  • Photosynthesis / drug effects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Cellulose