In order to best mitigate the potential negative environmental impacts of nanomaterials, information is needed regarding the types of damage they may cause and the properties of nanomaterials that make them harmful. Using this information brings the possibility of engineering nanomaterials that have the little environmental impact. Nanomaterial core composition and surface chemistry both have an influence on the survival and physiology of aquatic organisms such as Daphnia. Preliminary experiments have demonstrated a potential impact of nanomaterial exposure that extends beyond the parent generation to subsequent unexposed generations.
This project will examine how exposure to nanomaterials in one generation can impact subsequent generations and how they may cause these multi-generational impacts. In addition, these experiments will examine how changes in the chemistry of nanomaterials can influence intergenerational effects. Daphnia magna will be used as a model aquatic organism as they are a model species to determine ecological impacts and are now a recognized model species for studies of the interaction of toxins with the genome. Using this species, results from nanoparticle experiments can be compared to genomic and toxicology information that has already been developed for other chemical and environmental stressors. This approach will provide insight into how chemistry can play a role in nanomaterial-organism interactions and will provide hypotheses and methods with which to test with other types of particles. By working with NIST, standardized procedures will be developed that can be used by others in the scientific community to evaluate health and safety of other nanomaterials. The ultimate product will be not only toxicological data on a diverse set of nanomaterials but a tool with which to evaluate other nanomaterials. This project will also involve cross-disciplinary training of students in ecology, toxicology, genomics and engineering.