December 2020, Leiden

Role of microbiota in nanotoxicity

Host-associated microbiotas are of great importance to host health and development. A growing body of research shows their key role in immune responses, nutrient uptake, metabolism and chemical sensitivity. At Leiden University, we study how host-associated microbiotas affect nanotoxicity. We employ the benefits of zebrafish larvae as test species, comparing the sensitivity of germ-free and microbially-colonized larvae in acute toxicity tests. In this way, we found that colonizing microbiotas protect zebrafish larvae against the toxicity of silver nanoparticles. In contrast, we did not observe a protective effect of microbiotas against the toxicity of zinc oxide nanoparticles. This suggests that silver and zinc oxide nanoparticles exert their adverse effects in different ways, and that microbiotas do not offer protection against both modes of action. Within PATROLS WP5, we perform further lab experiments to better understand how these interactions between nanoparticles, microbiotas and hosts affect nanoparticle toxicity in our ecosystems.


Brinkmann, B.W., Koch, B.E.V., Spaink, H.P., Peijnenburg, W.J.G.M., and Vijver, M.G. 2020. Colonizing microbiota protect zebrafish larvae against silver nanoparticle toxicity. Nanotoxicology, 14(6): 725-739.

Llewellyn, M.S., Boutin, S., Hoseinifar, S.H., and Derome, N. 2014. Teleost microbiomes: the state of the art in their characterization, manipulation and importance in aquaculture and fisheries. Front. Microbiol., 5: 207.