Physiological changes of the lichen Parmotrema tinctorum as result of carbon nanotubes exposition

Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2015 Oct;120:110-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2015.05.034. Epub 2015 Jun 6.


Carbon nanotubes (CNT) is one of the more abundant nanomaterial produced in the world. Therefore, it is desirable to access its effects in all environment compartments, in order to mitigate environmental distress. This study aims to verify the potential use of lichens - classical atmospheric pollution indicators - as biomonitors of carbon nanotubes aerosols. To examine cause-effect relationships, preserving environmental microclimatic parameters, the lichen Parmotrema tinctorum (Nyl.) Hale was transplanted to open top chambers where aerosols of CNT were daily added. Physiological parameters such as cell viability, photosynthetic efficiency, cell permeability as well as nanoparticle internalization were assessed. Carbon nanotubes exposure led to reduction on the cell viability of P. tinctorum. The treatment with 100µg/mL of MWCNT-COOH resulted in intracellular ion leakage, probably due to changes in membrane permeability. No alterations on photosynthetic efficiency were detected. Carbon nanotubes entrapment and internalization into the lichen thallus were observed. Short term exposition of CNT produced measurable physiological changes in P. tinctorum lichen. This suggests the possibility of use of lichens as models to assess the environmental impact (air related) of engineered nanomaterials.

Keywords: Ecotoxicology; Nanoecotoxicology; Nanoparticles; Parmotrema tinctorum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols / toxicity
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Lichens / drug effects*
  • Lichens / metabolism
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / analysis
  • Nanotubes, Carbon / toxicity*
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity
  • Photosynthesis / drug effects


  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollutants
  • Nanotubes, Carbon
  • Particulate Matter