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An integrated approach to highlight biological responses of Pisum sativum root to nano-TiO2 exposure in a biosolid-amended agricultural soil

Giorgetti, Lucia, Spanò, Carmelina, Muccifora, Simonetta, Bellani, Lorenza, Tassi, Eliana, Bottega, Stefania, Di Gregorio, Simona, Siracusa, Giovanna, Sanità di Toppi, Luigi, Ruffini Castiglione, Monica
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.650 pp. 2705-2716
Pisum sativum, agricultural soils, crops, edaphic factors, experimental design, food plants, metabolism, nanoparticles, organelles, plant growth, plant response, root systems, soil amendments, titanium dioxide, toxic substances, toxicity
This study focused on crop plant response to a simultaneous exposure to biosolid and TiO2 at micro- and nano-scale, being biosolid one of the major sink of TiO2 nanoparticles released into the soil environment. We settled an experimental design as much as possible realistic, at microcosm scale, using the crop Pisum sativum. This experimental design supported the hypotheses that the presence of biosolid in the farming soil might influence plant growth and metabolism and that, after TiO2 spiking, the different dimension and crystal forms of TiO2 might be otherwise bioavailable and differently interacting with the plant system. To test these hypotheses, we have considered different aspects of the response elicited by TiO2 and biosolid at cellular and organism level, focusing on the root system, with an integrative approach. In our experimental conditions, the presence of biosolid disturbed plant growth of P. sativum, causing cellular damages at root level, probably through mechanisms not only oxidative stress-dependent but also involving altered signalling processes. These disturbances could depend on non-humified compounds and/or on the presence of toxic elements and of nanoparticles in the biosolid-amended soil. The addition of TiO2 particles in the sludge-amended soil, further altered plant growth and induced oxidative and ultrastructural damages. Although non typical dose-effect response was detected, the most responsiveness treatments were found for the anatase crystal form, alone or mixed with rutile. Based on ultrastructural observations, we could hypothesise that the toxicity level of TiO2 nanoparticles may depend on the cell ability to isolate nanoparticles in subcellular compartments, avoiding their interaction with organelles and/or metabolic processes.The results of the present work suggest reflections on the promising practice of soil amendments and on the use of nanomaterials and their safety for food plants and living organisms.