Research Topic

Nanotoxicology and environmental risk assessment of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) in plants

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Nanotechnologies are a rapidly growing industry, expected to become a 2.6 trillion USD market by 2015. They have been recognized as one of the key enabling technologies in the European Union strategy for 2020. Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are exploited due to their peculiar properties at atomic and ...

Nanotechnologies are a rapidly growing industry, expected to become a 2.6 trillion USD market by 2015. They have been recognized as one of the key enabling technologies in the European Union strategy for 2020. Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) are exploited due to their peculiar properties at atomic and molecular levels, differing from the properties of the bulk material: the official definition (European Commission, 2011) is the following: "A [...] material containing particles, in an unbound state or as an aggregate or as an agglomerate and where, for 50% or more of the particles in the number size distribution, one or more external dimensions is in the size range 1 nm -100 nm". ENMs are currently used in areas such as electronics, biomedicine, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food industry, textiles. Even though relevant progress has been made in developing procedures for risk assessment of nanomaterials, little is still known about ENM mechanisms of biological uptake and interaction with cells, biological compartmentalization, chemical behavior in the environment. Recently, interest has been sparked about the presence of ENMs in food products, prompting the issuing of official documents by the European Commission and by the European Food Safety Authority. Other regulatory bodies worldwide have prepared norms and instruments concerning nanomaterials. Since plants are the entry point of ENMs into the food chains, they can be a useful instrument to determine and analyse the risk assessment of toxicity and genotoxicity of ENMs. New research is needed about the path of ENMs from soil, air and water to living tissues in plants. Plants can be viewed as targets of ENMs actions, or as models in understanding the effects of exposure.

The aim of this research topic is to collect contributions revolving around nanomaterial exposure to plant species, encompassing model plants, wild species and crop plants. The papers can be focused on toxicity measurements, on uptake and translocation, on transfer from plants to other organisms. They can describe new experimental approaches and techniques for visualization and mapping of ENMs in plant tissues. They can address physiology, genetics and genomics, metabolomics, proteomics, ionomics, ecotoxicology, genotoxicity, ecological aspects.


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