Evaluation of toxicity and oxidative stress induced by copper oxide nanoparticles in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Silvia Pedroso Melegari, François Perreault, Rejane Helena Ribeiro Costa, Radovan Popovic, William Gerson Matias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

216 Scopus citations


Copper oxide nanoparticles (CuO NP) are frequently employed for their antimicrobial properties in antifouling paints. Their extensive use can contaminate aquatic ecosystems. However, the toxicological effects of this NP in the environment are poorly known. In this study, we evaluated the toxicity and oxidative stress induced by CuO NP on Chlamydomonas reinhardtii using several toxicological assays. CuO NP was found to induce growth inhibition and a significant decrease in carotenoids levels. From data on cells density after 72h of CuO NP exposure in light, the EC50 value was calculated to be 150.45±1.17mgL-1 and the NOEC≤100mgL-1. Evaluation of esterase activity demonstrates a decrease in cell metabolism activity with the increase of CuO NP concentration. The CuO NP induced an increase of reactive species level (190±0.45% at 1000mgL-1 after 72h of exposition, compared to control) and lipid peroxidation of cellular membranes (73±2% at 1000mgL-1 of CuO NP in 72h of exposition, compared to control). Investigation of CuO NP uptake showed the presence of NP into C. reinhardtii cells in different sites of the cell and, biomarkers of enzymatic antioxidants showed a change of activity after CuO NP exposition. In conclusion, C. reinhardtii was shown to be sensitive to the presence of CuO NP in their environment and CuO NP treatments induced a toxic response from 0.1mgL-1 after 72h of treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-440
Number of pages10
JournalAquatic Toxicology
StatePublished - Oct 15 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Antioxidants enzymes activity
  • Chlamydomonas reinhardtii
  • Copper oxide nanoparticles
  • Lipid peroxidation
  • Reactive oxygen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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