Scientists have highlighted that citrate-coated silver nanoparticles may have a significant effect on ecological populations by influencing the ability of organisms to detect and avoid predators in the environment.
The researchers investigated the effects of low concentrations of the nanoparticles on the interactions between the water flea species Daphnia magna and the predatory dragonfly nymph, by evaluating the behaviour, survival, and reproductive success of Daphnia.They found that, while in a control environment the species avoided the dragonfly via horizontal and vertical movements, this did not occur when the silver nanoparticles were present.
This suggests that the Daphnia "were unable to detect the presence of predators with citrate-coated nanoparticle treatment and this may have potential implications for the population structure of daphnids owing to predation risk", concluded the researchers. In general, this study offers a new insight into how nanoparticle exposure could affect environmental systems, they said.
The study is published in Environmental Science and Technology.