Metallic nanoparticles influence the structure and function of the photosynthetic apparatus in plants

Ricardo Tighe-Neira, Erico Carmora, Gonzalo Recio, Adriano Nunes-Nesi, Marjorie Reyes-Diaz, Miren Alberdi, Zed Rengel, Claudio Inostroza-Blancheteau

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


The applications of nanoparticles continue to expand into areas as diverse as medicine, bioremediation, cosmetics, pharmacology and various industries, including agri-food production. The widespread use of nanoparticles has generated concerns given the impact these nanoparticles – mostly metal-based such as CuO, Ag, Au, CeO2, TiO2, ZnO, Co, and Pt - could be having on plants. Some of the most studied variables are plant growth, development, production of biomass, and ultimately oxidative stress and photosynthesis. A systematic appraisal of information about the impact of nanoparticles on these processes is needed to enhance our understanding of the effects of metallic nanoparticles and oxides on the structure and function on the plant photosynthetic apparatus. Most nanoparticles studied, especially CuO and Ag, had a detrimental impact on the structure and function of the photosynthetic apparatus. Nanoparticles led to a decrease in concentration of photosynthetic pigments, especially chlorophyll, and disruption of grana and other malformations in chloroplasts. Regarding the functions of the photosynthetic apparatus, nanoparticles were associated with a decrease in the photosynthetic efficiency of photosystem II and decreased net photosynthesis. However, CeO2 and TiO2 nanoparticles may have a positive effect on photosynthetic efficiency, mainly due to an increase in electron flow between the photosystems II and I in the Hill reaction, as well as an increase in Rubisco activity in the Calvin and Benson cycle. Nevertheless, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. The future mechanistic work needs to be aimed at characterizing the enhancing effect of nanoparticles on the active generation of ATP and NADPH, carbon fixation and its incorporation into primary molecules such as photo-assimilates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-417
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Physiology and Biochemistry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018


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