U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Environ. Sci. Technol. 2017, 51, 10615−10623, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b01364.


U.S. government work.


Understanding the translocation of nanoparticles (NPs) into plants is challenging because qualitative and quantitative methods are still being developed and the comparability of results among different methods is unclear. In this study, uptake of titanium dioxide NPs and larger bulk particles (BPs) in rice plant (Oryza sativa L.) tissues was evaluated using three orthogonal techniques: electron microscopy, single-particle inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (spICP-MS) with two different plant digestion approaches, and total elemental analysis using ICP optical emission spectroscopy. In agreement with electron microscopy results, total elemental analysis of plants exposed to TiO2 NPs and BPs at 5 and 50 mg/L concentrations revealed that TiO2 NPs penetrated into the plant root and resulted in Ti accumulation in above ground tissues at a higher level compared to BPs. spICP-MS analyses revealed that the size distributions of internalized particles differed between the NPs and BPs with the NPs showing a distribution with smaller particles. Acid digestion resulted in higher particle numbers and the detection of a broader range of particle sizes than the enzymatic digestion approach, highlighting the need for development of robust plant digestion procedures for NP analysis. Overall, there was agreement among the three techniques regarding NP and BP penetration into rice plant roots and spICP-MS showed its unique contribution to provide size distribution information.