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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Photoactive titanium dioxide nanoparticles modify heterotrophic microbial functioning

Bundschuh, Mirco; Zubrod, Jochen P.; Konschak, Marco; Baudy, Patrick; Frombold, Bianca; Schulz, Ralf


Nanoparticulate titanium dioxide (nTiO(2)) is frequently applied, raising concerns about potential side effects on the environment. While various studies have assessed structural effects in aquatic model ecosystems, its impact on ecosystem functions provided by microbial communities (biofilms) is not well understood. This is all the more the case when considering additional stressors, such as UV irradiation - a factor known to amplify nTiO(2)-induced toxicity. Using pairwise comparisons, we assessed the impact of UV (UV-A = 1.6 W/m(2); UV-B = 0.7 W/m(2)) at 0, 20 or 2000 mu g nTiO(2)/L on two ecosystem functions provided by leaf-associated biofilms: while leaf litter conditioning, important for detritivorous invertebrate nutrition, seems unaffected, microbial leaf decomposition was stimulated (up to 25%) by UV, with effect sizes being higher in the presence of nTiO(2). Although stoichiometric and microbial analyses did not allow for uncovering the underlying mechanism, it seems plausible that the combination of a shift in biofilm community composition and activity together with photodegradation as well as the formation of reactive oxygen species triggered changes in leaf litter decomposition. The present study implies that the multiple functions a microbial community performs are not equally sensitive. Consequently, relying on one of the many functions realized by the same microbial community may be misleading for environmental management.


Nanomaterials; Semi-conductor; Trophic interaction; Ecological effects; Food selection

Published in

Environmental Science and Pollution Research
2021, Volume: 28, number: 36, pages: 49550-49558

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences

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