ISSN 10674136, Russian Journal of Ecology, 2011, Vol. 42, No. 6, pp. 458–463. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2011.
Original Russian Text © G.F. Nekrasova, O.S. Ushakova, A.E. Ermakov, M.A. Uimin, I.V. Byzov, 2011, published in Ekologiya, 2011, No. 6, pp. 422–428.
Copper is one of the most widespread inorganic pol
lutants. On the other hand, this active transition metal
is involved in many redox processes in plant and animal
cells. In plants, copper is a component of regulatory
proteins, participates in electron transport in the photo
synthetic and respiratory chains, and is a cofactor of
phenol oxidases, ascorbate oxidase, and superoxide dis
mutase (Chernavina,1970; Yruela, 2005).
Plants need only trace amounts of copper, and its
increased concentrations are toxic for them. Free cop
per ions can unspecifically bind to thiol groups of
enzyme proteins, which results in the loss of their sec
ondary structure and, therefore, activity (Zolotukhina
and Gavrilenko, 1990; Nekrasova and Maleva, 2007).
Copper also exerts its toxic action through the Fenton
reaction, i.e., generation of hydroxyl radicals cata
lyzed by the metal (Fenik, Trofimyak, and Blyum,
1995; Hagemeyer, 1999; Yruela, 2005). Copper at
increased concentrations damages thylakoid mem
branes, thereby disturbing the functioning of photo
system II and the wateroxidizing complex of chloro
ä et al., 2002; Yruela, 2005).
Of special interest are nanoparticles of metals, cop
per in particular, which enter the environment from
certain natural sources as well as a result of industrial
activities, as accidental pollutants (Gmoshinskii,
Smirnova, and Khotimchenko, 2010). Nanomaterials
are used in pharmacological preparations, paints,
fuels, etc. (Bogatikov, 2003), and their leakage and dis
persal in the environment can occur at any stage of
their life cycle, including production, transportation,
recycling, and utilization (Kholodenko, Chugunov,
and Kobzev, 2009).
Nanoparticles of some metals are highly active
toward animal cells, penetrating through their mem
branes by unspecific pinocytosis or diffusion (Garnett,
2007). They can interact with glycoproteins and inte
gral proteins. Having high affinity to membrane lipids,
they can produce tiny holes in the membrane (15–
40 nm in diameter), which open the way out of the cell
for proteins and into the cell for foreign substances
(Suh, Suh, and Stucky, 2009).
The action of copper nanoparticles on plant cells
has not been studied sufficiently, and the available
results are ambiguous. For example, it is known that
nanopowders are successfully used as microfertilizers
and pesticides (Selivanov and Zorin, 2001; Raikova,
Panichkin, and Raikova, 2006). It has also been shown
that copper nanoparticles are biologically accessible to
mung bean and wheat germs (Lee et al., 2008). They
exert their toxic effect by penetrating directly into the
cell, supposedly by causing oxidative damage to cell
structures and molecules.
Increase in production of nanomaterials and their
application in various fields inevitably lead to addi
tional ecological impact on the environment, which
increases the relevance of studies on the ability of
nanoparticles to accumulate in plants and animals
Effects of Copper(II) Ions and Copper Oxide Nanoparticles
G. F. Nekrasova
, O. S. Ushakova
, A. E. Ermakov
, M. A. Uimin
, and I. V. Byzov
Ural Federal University, pr. Lenina 51, Yekaterinburg, 620000 Russia
Institute of Metal Physics, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, ul. Sof’i Kovalevskoi 18, Yekaterinburg, 620090 Russia
Received March 11, 2011
—Effects of copper ions and copper oxide nanoparticles on lipid peroxidation rate, activities of anti
oxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, catalase, and peroxidase), and photosynthesis have been studied in
Planch. The results show that nanoparticles are more actively accumulated by
plants. Both copper ions and nanoparticles activate lipid peroxidation (to 120 and 180% of the control level,
respectively). Catalase and superoxide dismutase activities in plants treated with nanoparticles increase by a
factor of 1.5–2.0. Copper ions suppress photosynthesis at a concentration of 0.5 mg/l, whereas nanoparticles
produce such an effect only at 1.0 mg/l. The observed effects of different forms of copper on
cussed in a comparative aspect.
Planch., copper, nanoparticles, lipid peroxidation, antioxidant system, photosynthe
sis, pigment complex.