Engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) have been produced by nano-biotech companies in recent decades to generate innovative goods in various fields, including agriculture, electronics, biomedicine, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. The nano-scale size of the particles can confer novel and significantly improved physical, chemical and biological properties to scientific phenomena and processes. As their applications to science and technology expand, the need to understand the putative noxious effects of ENPs on humans and ecosystems is becoming increasingly important. ENPs are emerging as a new class of pollutants with eco-toxicological impacts on marine ecosystems because the particles can end up in waterways and reach the sea. Recent laboratory studies in invertebrates and fishes suggest that exposure to ENPs could have harmful effects. Because there is not much data available for gauging the effects of ENPs on marine wildlife, the ultimate ecotoxicological impacts of chronic exposure to ENPs should be investigated further using laboratory tests and field studies. We propose the use of model organisms to understand the molecular pathways involved in the mechanisms that may be affected by exposure to ENPs. Sensitive and innovative molecular methods will provide information regarding the hazards of ENPs that may exist in the marine environment. Model organisms that have not been conventionally used for risk assessment and the development of eco-toxicogenomic approaches will result in an improved understanding of the mechanistic modes of action of contaminating ENPs in the marine environment.
Source: Valeria Matrangaa, Ilaria Corsi. Toxic effects of engineered nanoparticles in the marine environment: Model organisms and molecular approaches. Marine Environmental Research, Volume 76, May 2012, Pages 32–40
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