AQUA – NANO Project

Description of the project

Engineered nanoparticles are materials which are produced purposefully by human activity and are less than 100 nm in size. Very little is, however, known about the fate, transport, and transformation of nanoparticles in aqueous systems. How and to what extent nanoparticles influence aquatic ecosystems is not yet clear. Aim of this project will be the development and applied an ecosystem approach for understanding the mechanisms of natural and engineered nanomaterial impacts on marine planktonic ecosystem. The core idea of the project is to use HCMR mesocosm facilities ( and a food web approach in order to study the effects of engineered nanomaterial on planktoning system.



Project goals and objectives:

The project will analyse the effects of silver and titanium nanoparticles on natural plankton communities on the basis of independent mesocosm experiments and a series of laboratory experiments performed at HCMR facilities. The work will focuses on integrating functional and structural measures of community responses to reveal indirect effects and interactions with the abiotic environment.

A novel methodological approach will be development and state of the art analytical techniques will be followed.
The general objective of this proposal is to quantitatively describe the influence of the selected ENPs on key process of pelagic marine ecosystem. The main objective can be broken down into the following components to be addressed in the indicated work packages:

  • Primary characterization of chemical and physical properties of the selected engineered nanoparticles (ENP) included in the project
  • Develop analytical methods for quantifying ENPs in seawater and marine biota samples
  • Study the toxicity of nanoparticles at a cellular and organism level in model organisms
  • Determine the uptake of ENPs in marine phytoplankton and their subsequent redistribution through the marine food web chain.
  • Chemical transformations and redistributions of silver nanoparticles in aquatic environment
  • Quantify effects of nanoparticles contaminants on small –scale pelagic process
  • Quantify effects of nanoparticles contaminants on phytoplankton communities (production, size, species composition)
  • Quantify the effects of Silver nanoparticles on zooplankton
  • Ecosystem effects of nanoparticles at larger scale in land based mesocosms
  • Synergistic effects of engineered nanomaterial and organic pollutants (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)) on plankton communities