Biochemical and behavioral responses of zebrafish embryos to magnetic graphene/nickel nanocomposites


• No acute or developmental toxicity of graphene/Ni nanocomposites (G/Ni) was observed.

• G/Ni sublethal toxicity to zebrafish embryos depends on their shape and size.
• Locomotor behavior was the most sensitive parameter evaluated.
• Predicted environmental concentrations (PEC) of these compounds should be calculated.
• Relevance of findings to be determined in light of the PEC values.


Graphene nanocomposites are emerging carbon-based materials with interesting electrical, mechanical, optical and magnetic properties, relevant for applications in different fields. Despite this increased use, the impact of graphene nanocomposites residues in the environment has not been properly studied. Thus, the goal of this work was to assess the toxicity of two nickel/graphene nanocomposites (G/Ni1 and G/Ni2) differing in size and shape to Danio rerio embryos. Their toxicity was evaluated using apical (mortality, development and hatching), biochemical [cholinesterase (ChE), glutathione-S-transferase (GST), and catalase (CAT) activities] and behavioral (locomotor activity) endpoints. At the tested concentrations, neither of the nanocomposites presented lethal or developmental effects. Nevertheless, both nanocomposites induced behavioral effects, reducing swimming distances. This effect was, however detected at lower concentrations in the G/Ni1 nanocomposite. At biochemical level, only G/Ni1 nanocomposite showed to interfere with the measured parameters, increasing the activities of ChE, CAT and GST. Differences in the effects induced by the two nanocomposites seem to be related not only with their size, but also with the shape and the ability to continuously release nickel ions to aqueous medium. This work highlights the importance of studying graphene nanocomposites effects to aquatic organisms even when acute toxicity is not expected. The relevance of the effects found in this work need to be further analyzed in light of the consequences to the long-term fitness of the organisms and in light of the environmental concentrations expected for this type of compounds.


Link to the publication :