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Aquatic Nanotoxicology

Effects of ingestion of nanoparticles on endogenous microbiota and pathogen resistance in rainbow trout

Funded by the National Science Foundation, Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental & Transport Systems

Nanotechnology is being increasingly exploited by a variety of industries for the unique properties the nanoparticles (NPs) display. Production and incorporation of these NPs will ultimately lead to release into the environment and for unintended exposure to animals and humans. Some NPs, such as silver (Ag) and copper (Cu), display antimicrobial properties and this ability to kill or impede the growth of pathogenic bacteria is important in medicine and personal care products. However, if unintended exposure to NPs occur they may affect beneficial/protective bacteria in the digestive system of, for example, fish, and lead to immunosuppression and potential negative health effects.

We are investigating the effects of manufactured Ag- and Cu-NPs, in a dietary experiment, on the microbiome of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) to evaluate their health with respect to direct damage to the intestinal epithelium, blood parameters, immunological response, and general growth. We aim to link NP effects on host microbiome and fish physiology and pathogen response by challenge the NP exposed fish with the bacterial pathogen Yersinia ruckeri, known to cause enteric redmouth disease, to explore their susceptibility to infection and disease development.

We are demonstrating that dietary exposure to Ag-NP and Cu-NP (50 mg/kg food) is changing the abundance of various bacterial genera but without compromising the immunity of the fish excessively from fish fed control food. Investigations of effects on gut microbial community and health is ongoing.

The information obtained from this study provides knowledge of host-microbiome interactions in fish. Furthermore, the results provide information that is critical for determining the effects of NPs on environmental health and subsequent risk assessment.

For more information, contact Nanna Brande-Lavridsen at or 865-974-8080