Comparative proteomic study of phytotoxic effects of silver nanoparticles and silver ions on tobacco plants

Petra Peharec Štefanić, Martina Jarnević, Petra Cvjetko, Renata Biba, Sandra Šikić, Mirta Tkalec, Mario Cindrić, Ilse Letofsky-Papst, Biljana Balen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Widespread application of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs), due to their antibacterial and antifungal properties, increases their release into the environment and potential detrimental impact on living organisms. Plants may serve as a potential pathway for AgNPs bioaccumulation and a route into the food chain, hence investigation of AgNP phytotoxic effects are of particular importance. Since proteins are directly involved in stress response, studies of their abundance changes can help elucidate the mechanism of the AgNP-mediated phytotoxicity. In this study, we investigated proteomic changes in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) exposed to AgNPs and ionic silver (AgNO3). A high overlap of differently abundant proteins was found in root after exposure to both treatments, while in leaf, almost a half of the proteins exhibited different abundance level between treatments, indicating tissue-specific responses. Majority of the identified proteins were down-regulated in both tissues after exposure to either AgNPs or AgNO3; in roots, the most affected proteins were those involved in response to abiotic and biotic stimuli and oxidative stress, while in leaf, both treatments had the most prominent effect on photosynthesis-related proteins. However, since AgNPs induced higher suppression of protein abundance than AgNO3, we conclude that AgNP effects can, at least partially, be attributed to nanoparticle form.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22529-22550
Number of pages22
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research International
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Nicotiana tabacum
  • Phytotoxicity
  • Proteomics
  • Silver nanoparticles
  • Silver nitrate
  • Two-dimensional electrophoresis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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