Gold nanoparticles do not induce adverse effects on terrestrial isopods Porcellio scaber after 14-day exposure


  • Pavlína Škarkováa
  • Tea Romih
  • Monika Kos
  • Sara Novak
  • Veno Kononenko
  • Anita Jemec
  • Milada Vávrová
  • Damjana Drobne



nanoparticles, Au3 , avoidance behavior, bioaccumulation, safety


Despite the anticipated environmental release of anthropogenic gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), there is currently not enough data on their potential impact on terrestrial environment. In the current study, we investigated the effects of considerably low concentrations of AuNPs on terrestrial isopods (Porcellio scaber) after 14 days of exposure. The effects on mortality, weight change, feeding rate, avoidance/preference feeding behavior, and cell membrane destabilization of digestive gland cells were followed. In parallel, the accumulation of Au in the digestive glands was measured. Our results show that none of the tested parameters was affected in isopods under given exposure doses (10 and 60 µg Au/g dry leaf) and exposure duration. No Au was assimilated in the digestive glands. Also, the same doses of the reference chemical, AuCl3, showed no effect. We conclude that these concentrations of AuNPs are safe for terrestrial isopods. We encourage reporting the results showing no adverse effects of nanoparticles to balance the prevailing publication of their adverse effects. This will help to build a realistic public perception of the environmental risk of nanomaterials.


Bondarenko, O. M., Heinlaan, M., Sihtmäe, M., Ivask, A., Kurvet, I., Jemec, A., Mannerström, M., Heinonen, T., Rekulapelly, R., Singh, S., Zou, J., Pyykkö, I., Drobne, D., Kahru, A., 2016. In vitro (eco)toxicity screening and hazard grouping of seven engineered nanomaterials: FP7 project NANOVALID. Nanotoxicology, in press. DOI:

Drobne, D., 1997. Terrestrial isopods - a good choice for toxicity testing of pollutants in the terrestrial environment. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 16, 1159–1164. DOI:

Eisler, R., 2004. Mammalian sensitivity to elemental gold (Auo). Biol. Trace Elem. Res. 100, 1–17. DOI:

Golobič, M., Jemec, A., Drobne, D., Romih, T., Kasemets, K., Kahru, A., 2010. Upon exposure to Cu nanoparticles, accumulation of copper in the Isopod Porcellio scaber is due to the dissolved Cu ions inside the digestive tract. Environ. Sci. Technol. 46, 12112–12119. DOI:

Hagedorn, M., Ziegler, A., 2002. Analysis of Ca2+ uptake into the smooth endoplasmic reticulum of permeabilised sternal epithelial cells during the molting cycle of the terrestrial isopod Porcellio scaber. J. Exp. Biol. 205, 1935–1942. DOI:

Hames, C.A.C., Hopkin, S.P., 1989. The structure and function of the digestive system of terrestrial isopods. J. Zool. 217, 599–627. DOI:

Hopkin, S.P., 1990. Critical concentrations, pathways of detoxification and cellular ecotoxicology of metals in terrestrial arthropods. Funct. Ecol. 4, 321–327. DOI:

Hornung E., Farkas, S., Fischer, E., 1998. Tests on the isopod Porcellio scaber. In: Løkke, H., van Gestel, C.A.M. (Eds.), Handbook of Soil Invertebrate Toxicity Tests. Ecological and Environmental Toxicology Series. Wiley, Chichester, pp. 207–226.

Judy, J.D., Unrine, J.M., Bertsch, P.M., 2010. Evidence for biomagnification of gold nanoparticles within a terrestrial food chain. Environ. Sci. Technol. 45, 776–781. DOI:

Judy, J.D., Unrine, J.M., Rao, W., Bertsch, P.M., 2012. Bioaccumulation of gold nanomaterials by Manduca sexta through dietary uptake of surface contaminated plant tissue. Environ. Sci. Technol. 46, 12672−12678. DOI:

Korobushkina, E.D., Karavaiko, G.I., Korobushkin, I.M., 1983. Biochemistry of gold. Ecol. Bull. 35, 325–333.

Mahapatra I., Sun, T.Y., Clark, J.R., Dobson, P.J., Hungerbuehler, K., Owen, R., Nowack, B., Lead, J., 2015. Probabilistic modelling of prospective environmental concentrations of gold nanoparticles from medical applications as a basis for risk assessment. J. Nanobiotechnol. 13: 93. DOI:

Novak, S., Drobne, D., Valant, J., Pipan-Tkalec, Ž., Pelicon, P., Vavpetič, P., Grlj, N., Falnoga, I., Mazej, D., Remškar, M., 2012. Cell membrane integrity and internalization of ingested TiO2 nano- particles by digestive gland cells of a terrestrial isopod. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 31, 1083–1090. Novak, S., Drobne, D., Vaccari, L., Kiskinova, M., Ferraris, P., Birarda, G., Remškar, M., Hočevar, M., 2013. Effect of Ingested Tungsten Oxide (WOx) Nanofibers on Digestive Gland Tissue of Porcellio scaber (Isopoda, Crustacea): Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Imaging. Environ. Sci. DOI:

Technol. 47, 11284–11292.

Pipan-Tkalec, Ž., Drobne, D., Jemec, A., Romih, T., Zidar, P., Bele, M., 2010. Zinc bioaccumulation in a terrestrial invertebrate fed a diet treated with particulate ZnO or ZnCl2 solution. Toxicology 269, 198–203. DOI:

Pipan-Tkalec, Ž., Drobne, D., Vogel-Mikuš, K., Pongrac, P., Regvar, M., Štrus, J., Pelicon, P., Vavpetič, P., Grlj, N., Remškar, M., 2011. Micro-PIXE study of Ag in digestive glands of a nano-Ag fed arthropod (Porcellio scaber, Isopoda, Crustacea). Nucl. Instrum. Meth. B. 269, 2286–2291. DOI:

Pompa, P.P., Vecchio, G., Galeone, A., Brunetti, V., Sabella, S., Maiorano, G., Falqui, A., Bertoni, G., Cingolani, R., 2011. In vivo toxicity assessment of gold nanoparticles in Drosophila melanogaster. Nano. Res. 4, 405–413. DOI:

Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, 2016. Consumer Products Inventory. Retrieved on June 21st, 2016, from

R Development Core Team, 2015. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Founda- tion for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria;

Rapson, W.S., 1982. Effects of biological systems on metallic gold. Gold Bull. 15: 19–20. Rapson, W.S.,1984. Skin contact with gold and gold alloys. Gold Bull. 17, 102–108. DOI:

Sabella, S., Brunetti, V., Vecchio, G., Galeone, A., Maiorano, G., Cingolani, R., Pompa, P.P., 2011. Toxicity of citrate-capped AuNPs: an in vitro and in vivo assessment. J. Nanoparticle Res. 13, 6821–6835. DOI:

Sadler, P.J., 1976. The biological chemistry of gold. Gold Bull. 9: 110–118. DOI:

Southam, G., Lengke, M. F., Fairbrother, L., Reith, F., 2009. The biogeochemistry of gold. Elements 5, 303–307. DOI:

Škarková, P., Kos, M., Drobne, D., Vávrová, M., Jemec, A., 2016. Effects of food salinization on terrestrial crustaceans Porcellio scaber. Appl. Soil Ecol. 100, 1–7. DOI:

Unrine, J.M., Hunyadi, S.E., Tsyusko, O.V., Rao, W., Shoults-Wilson, W.A., Bertsch, P.M., 2010. Evidence for bioavailability of Au nanoparticles from soil and biodistribution within earthworms (Eisenia fetida). Environ. Sci. Technol. 44, 8308–8313. DOI:

Unrine, J.M., Shoults-Wilson, W.A., Zhurbich, O., Bertsch, P.M., Tsyusko, O.V., 2012. Trophic tran- sfer of Au nanoparticles from soil along a simulated terrestrial food chain. Environ. Sci. Technol. 46, 9753−9760. DOI:

Valant, J., Drobne, D., Sepčić, K., Jemec, A., Kogej, K., Kostanjšek, R., 2009. Hazardous potential of manufactured nanoparticles identified by in vivo assay. J. Hazard. Mater. 171, 160–165. DOI:

Vecchio, G., Galeone, A., Brunetti, V., Maiorano, G., Rizzello, L., Sabella, S., Cingolani, R., Pompa, P.P., 2012a. Mutagenic effects of gold nanoparticles induce aberrant phenotypes in Drosophila melanogaster. Nanomed. Nanotech. Biol. Med. 8, 1–7. DOI:

Vecchio, G., Galeone, A., Brunetti, V., Maiorano, G., Sabella, S., Cingolani, R., Pompa P.P., 2012b. Concentration-dependent, size-independent toxicity of citrate capped AuNPs in Drosophila me- lanogaster. PLOS One 7: e29980. DOI:

Zidar, P., Drobne, D., Štrus, J., 1998. Determination of moult stage of Porcellio scaber (Isopoda) for routine use. Crustaceana 71, 646–654. DOI:

Zidar P., Drobne, D., Štrus, J., van Gestel, C.A.M., Donker, M., 2004. Food selection as a means of Cu intake reduction in the terrestrial isopod Porcellio scaber (Crustacea, Isopoda). Appl. Soil Ecol. 25, 257-265. DOI:






Original Research Paper

How to Cite

Škarkováa, P., Romih, T., Kos, M., Novak, S., Kononenko, V., Jemec, A., Vávrová, M., & Drobne, D. (2016). Gold nanoparticles do not induce adverse effects on terrestrial isopods Porcellio scaber after 14-day exposure. Acta Biologica Slovenica, 59(1), 33-44.

Similar Articles

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.

Most read articles by the same author(s)