Biotransformation of ceria nanoparticles in cucumber plants

Peng Zhang, Yuhui Ma, Zhiyong Zhang, Xiao He, Jing Zhang, Zhi Guo, Renzhong Tai, Yuliang Zhao, Zhifang Chai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

315 Scopus citations


Biotransformation is a critical factor that may modify the toxicity, behavior, and fate of engineered nanoparticles in the environment. CeO 2 nanoparticles (NPs) are generally recognized as stable under environmental and biological conditions. The present study aims to investigate the biotransformation of CeO2 NPs in plant systems. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images show needlelike clusters on the epidermis and in the intercellular spaces of cucumber roots after a treatment with 2000 mg/L CeO2 NPs for 21 days. By using a soft X-ray scanning transmission microscopy (STXM) technique, the needlelike clusters were verified to be CePO4. Near edge X-ray absorption fine structure (XANES) spectra show that Ce presented in the roots as CeO2 and CePO4 while in the shoots as CeO2 and cerium carboxylates. Simulated studies indicate that reducing substances (e.g., ascorbic acids) played a key role in the transformation process and organic acids (e.g., citric acids) can promote particle dissolution. We speculate that CeO2 NPs were first absorbed on the root surfaces and partially dissolved with the assistance of the organic acids and reducing substances excreted by the roots. The released Ce(III) ions were precipitated on the root surfaces and in intercellular spaces with phosphate, or form complexes with carboxyl compounds during translocation to the shoots. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report confirming the biotransformation and in-depth exploring the translocation process of CeO 2 NPs in plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9943-9950
Number of pages8
JournalACS Nano
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 27 2012


  • biotransformation
  • CeO
  • CePO
  • nanoparticles
  • plant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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