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Ricercatore t.d. art. 24 c. 3 lett. B
Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita sede ex-Biologia

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2024 - Exposure to nanoplastics and nanomaterials either single and combined affects the gill-associated microbiome of the Antarctic soft-shelled clam Laternula elliptica [Articolo su rivista]
Rondon, R.; Cosseau, C.; Bergami, E.; Cardenas, C. A.; Perez-Toledo, C.; Alvarez, D.; Aldridge, J.; Font, A.; Garrido, I.; Santa Cruz, F.; Perrois, G.; Balbi, T.; Corsi, I.; Gonzalez-Aravena, M.

Nanoplastics and engineering nanomaterials (ENMs) are contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), increasingly being detected in the marine environment and recognized as a potential threat for marine biota at the global level including in polar areas. Few studies have assessed the impact of these anthropogenic nanoparticles in the microbiome of marine invertebrates, however combined exposure resembling natural scenarios has been overlooked. The present study aimed to evaluate the single and combined effects of polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NP) as proxy for nanoplastics and nanoscale titanium dioxide (nano-TiO2) on the prokaryotic communities associated with the gill tissue of the Antarctic soft-shell clam Laternula elliptica, a keystone species of marine benthos Wild-caught specimens were exposed to two environmentally relevant concentrations of carboxylated PS NP (PS–COOH NP, ∼62 nm size) and nano-TiO2 (Aeroxide P25, ∼25 nm) as 5 and 50 μg/L either single and combined for 96h in a semi-static condition.Our findings show a shift in microbiome composition in gills of soft-shell clams exposed to PS NP and nano-TiO2 either alone and in combination with a decrease in the relative abundance of OTU1 (Spirochaetaceae). In addition, an increase of gammaproteobacterial OTUs affiliated to MBAE14 and Methylophagaceae (involved in ammonia denitrification and associated with low-quality water), and the OTU Colwellia rossensis (previously recorded in polluted waters) was observed. Our results suggest that nanoplastics and nano-TiO2 alone and in combination induce alterations in microbiome composition by promoting the increase of negative taxa over beneficial ones in the gills of the Antarctic soft-shell clam. An increase of two low abundance OTUs in PS-COOH NPs exposed clams was also observed. A predicted gene function analysis revealed that sugar, lipid, protein and DNA metabolism were the main functions affected by either PS-COOH NP and nano-TiO2 exposure. The molecular functions involved in the altered affiliated OTUs are novel for nano-CEC exposures.

2024 - First Assessment of Microplastic Contamination in Wild Specimens of Gelatinous Zooplankton From the Northern Adriatic Sea (Italy) [Poster]
Ferrari, V.; Marisaldi, L.; Ferrari, A.; Maffezzoni, M. B. R.; Prato, V. J.; Gamberini, M. C.; Prevedelli, D.; Bergami, E.

2024 - Level of Awareness and Attitudes towards Plastic Contamination by Students of an Italian University [Articolo su rivista]
Righi, Sara; Bergami, Elisa; Simonini, Roberto; Prevedelli, Daniela

2024 - Plastic pollution in marine and freshwater biota [Articolo su rivista]
Caruso, G.; Corsi, I.; Wu, C.; Bergami, E.; Corami, F.; Azevedo-Santos, V. M.

2024 - Transcriptomic responses of Antarctic clam Laternula elliptica to nanoparticles, at single and combined exposures reveal ecologically relevant biomarkers [Articolo su rivista]
Rondon, Rodolfo; Valdés, Catalina; Cosseau, Céline; Bergami, Elisa; Cárdenas, César Antonio; Balbi, Teresa; Pérez-Toledo, Carolina; Garrido, Ignacio; Perrois, Garance; Chaparro, Cristian; Corre, Erwan; Corsi, Ilaria; González-Aravena, Marcelo

2023 - Alterations induced by titanium dioxide nanoparticles (nano-TiO2) in fertilization and embryonic and larval development of the tropical sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus [Articolo su rivista]
Palmeira-Pinto, L.; Emerenciano, A. K.; Bergami, E.; Joviano, W. R.; Rosa, A. R.; Neves, C. L.; Corsi, I.; Marques-Santos, L. F.; Silva, J. R. M. C.

The release of nanomaterials into the environment is the cause of an emerging concern. Titanium dioxide nanoparticles (nano-TiO2) among the most produced nanomaterials, has been documented in marine coastal areas posing a threat on marine biota. Sea urchin embryos are recognized as suitable bioindicators in ecological risk assessment and recently for nanomaterials. This study investigated the impact of nano-TiO2 on fertilization, embryonic and larval development of the tropical sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus in a range of concentrations (0.005–5 μg/mL) which includes environmentally relevant ones. The behavior of nano-TiO2 in tropical natural seawater was determined by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and toxicity was evaluated through fertilization and embryotoxicity tests, and morphological/morphometric analyses of sea urchin's larvae. Limited toxicity was recorded for nano-TiO2 in tropical sea urchin embryos and larvae, except for effects at the gastrula stage at 0.005 μg/mL. Large agglomerates of nano-TiO2 (5 μg/mL) were observed adhering onto sea urchin larvae thus probably preventing nanoparticles uptake at the highest concentrations (>0.005 μg/mL). Environmental levels of nano-TiO2 are able to cause toxicity on tropical sea urchin L. variegatus embryos with potential consequences on populations and their ecological role in tropical coastal areas.

2023 - Emergenze ambientali e “Citizen Science”: come la contaminazione da microplastiche viene percepita da studenti UNIMORE [Articolo su rivista]
Righi, Sara; Bergami, Elisa; Simonini, Roberto; Prevedelli, Daniela

Environmental emergencies and “Citizen Science”: how university students perceive pollution by microplastics. Micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs) pollution is one of the most important environmental emergencies. Since microplastics have an anthropogenic origin, it is of interest to evaluate how much “citizens” are aware of the problem and mainly if they are aware of how daily activities can affect the release of microplastics into the environment. In this study, citizens are represented by students from Modena and Reggio Emilia University (Italy), who were enrolled in undergraduate programmes with a scientific focus. The level of perception in the student population of the problem of microplastics, together with the differences between students from different undergraduate programmes (students enrolled in Natural Sciences and Biological Sciences vs. other courses with a scientific focus), was measured by means of a questionnaire of 30 questions. The researchers of the Department of Life Sciences of our University developed this questionnaire. Overall, 220 students completed the questionnaire on a voluntary basis: 146 were enrolled in undergraduate programmes in Biological Sciences and Natural Sciences and 74 in Biotechnology, Mathematics, Computer Science and Geology. The results have shown that there were no differences in knowledge and attitudes between gender and the undergraduate courses attended. Students seem to be aware of the distribution and effects of MNPs on ecosystems but are less informed about the nature and effects that MNPs could have on human health. Thus, good knowledge does not always translate into actions planned to mitigate the problem. As a first step forward, environmental education programmes should be promoted to increase knowledge and awareness of how the massive use of plastic affects ecosystems and humans, and what behaviours should be pursued in future mitigation strategies.

2023 - Nanoplastics in Urban Waters: Recent Advances in the Knowledge Base [Capitolo/Saggio]
Corsi, I.; Bergami, E.; Allan, I. J.; Gigault, J.

2023 - Organic or junk food? Microplastic contamination in Antarctic krill and salps [Articolo su rivista]
Wilkie Johnston, Laura; Bergami, Elisa; Rowlands, Emily; Manno, Clara

2023 - Progress in selecting marine bioindicators for nanoplastics ecological risk assessment [Articolo su rivista]
Corsi, Ilaria; Bellingeri, Arianna; Bergami, Elisa

2023 - Tracing Airborne Microplastics in Modena: results from the MicroTRACES project [Abstract in Atti di Convegno]
Veratti, Giorgio; Bigi, Alessandro; Teggi, Sergio; Ferrari, Valentina; Scaramelli, Marco; Righi, Sara; Simonini, Roberto; Prevedelli, Daniela; Bergami, Elisa; Ghermandi, Grazia

2022 - Application of transcriptome profiling to inquire into the mechanism of nanoplastics toxicity during Ciona robusta embryogenesis [Articolo su rivista]
Eliso, Maria Concetta; Bergami, Elisa; Bonciani, Lisa; Riccio, Roberto; Belli, Giulia; Belli, Mattia; Corsi, Ilaria; Spagnuolo, Antonietta

The growing concern on nanoplastics (<1  μm) impact on marine life has stimulated a significant amount of studies aiming to address ecotoxicity and disclose their mechanisms of action. Here, we applied an integrative approach to develop an Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) upon acute exposure to amino-modified polystyrene nanoparticles (PS-NH2 NPs, 50 nm), as proxy for nanoplastics, during the embryogenesis of the chordate Ciona robusta. Genes related to glutathione metabolism, immune defense, nervous system, transport by aquaporins and energy metabolism were affected by either concentration tested of 10 or 15 μg mL-1 of PS-NH2. Transcriptomic data and in vivo experiments were assembled into two putative AOPs, identifying as key events the adhesion of PS-NH2 as (molecular) initiating event, followed by oxidative stress, changes in transcription of specific genes, morphological defects, increase in reactive oxygen species level, impaired swimming behavior. As final adverse outcomes, altered larval development, reduced metamorphosis and inhibition of hatching were identified. Our study attempts to define AOPs for PS-NH2 without excluding that chemicals leaching from them might also have a potential role in the observed outcome. Overall data provide new insights into the mechanism of action of PS-NH2 NPs during chordate embryogenesis and offer further keys for a better knowledge of nanoplastics impact on early stages of marine life.

2022 - Behavioural, physiological and molecular responses of the Antarctic fairy shrimp Branchinecta gaini (Daday, 1910) to polystyrene nanoplastics [Articolo su rivista]
Bergami, E.; Krupinski Emerenciano, A.; Palmeira Pinto, L.; Reina Joviano, W.; Font, A.; Almeida de Godoy, T.; Silva, J. R. M. C.; González-Aravena, M.; Corsi, I.

2022 - Characterization of Five Psychrotolerant Alcanivorax spp. Strains Isolated from Antarctica [Articolo su rivista]
Cappello, Simone; Corsi, Ilaria; Patania, Sabrina; Bergami, Elisa; Azzaro, Maurizio; Mancuso, Monique; Genovese, Maria; Lunetta, Alessia; Caruso, Gabriella

Five psychrotolerant Alcanivorax spp. strains were isolated from Antarctic coastal waters. Strains were screened for molecular and physiological properties and analyzed regarding their growth capacity. Partial 16S rDNA, alk-B1, and P450 gene sequencing was performed. Biolog EcoPlates and the API 20E test were used to evaluate metabolic and biochemical profiles. Bacterial growth in sodium acetate was determined at 4, 15, 20, and 25 degrees C to evaluate the optimal temperature. Furthermore, the ability of each strain to grow in a hydrocarbon mixture at 4 and 25 degrees C was assayed. Biosurfactant production tests (drop-collapse and oil spreading) and emulsification activity tests (E-24) were also performed. Concerning results of partial gene sequencing (16S rDNA, alk-B1, and P450), a high similarity of the isolates with the same genes isolated from other Alcanivorax spp. strains was observed. The metabolic profiles obtained by Biolog assays showed no significant differences in the isolates compared to the Alcanivorax borkumensis wild type. The results of biodegradative tests showed their capability to grow at different temperatures. All strains showed biosurfactant production and emulsification activity. Our findings underline the importance to proceed in the isolation and characterization of Antarctic hydrocarbon-degrading bacterial strains since their biotechnological and environmental applications could be useful even for pollution remediation in polar areas.

2022 - Macro- and Microplastics in the Antarctic Environment: Ongoing Assessment and Perspectives [Articolo su rivista]
Rota, E; Bergami, E; Corsi, I; Bargagli, R

The number of scientists and tourists visiting Antarctica is on the rise and, despite the management framework for environmental protection, some coastal areas, particularly in the Antarctic Peninsula region, are affected by plastic contamination. The few data available on the occurrence of microplastics (<5 mm) are difficult to compare, due to the different methodologies used in monitoring studies. However, indications are emerging to guide future research and to implement environmental protocols. In the surface and subsurface waters of the Southern Ocean, plastic debris >300 p.m appears to be scarce and far less abundant than paint chips released from research vessels. Yet, near some coastal scientific stations, the fragmentation and degradation of larger plastic items, as well as microbeads and microfibers released into wastewater from personal care products and laundry, could potentially affect marine organisms. Some studies indicate that, through long-range atmospheric transport, plastic fibers produced on other continents can be deposited in Antarctica. Drifting plastic debris can also cross the Polar Front, with the potential to carry alien fouling organisms into the Southern Ocean. Sea ice dynamics appear to favor the uptake of microplastics by ice algae and Antarctic krill, the key species in the Antarctic marine food web. Euphausia superba apparently has the ability to fragment and expel ingested plastic particles at the nanoscale. However, most Antarctic organisms are endemic species, with unique ecophysiological adaptations to extreme environmental conditions and are likely highly sensitive to cumulative stresses caused by climate change, microplastics and other anthropogenic disturbances. Although there is limited evidence to date that micro- and nanoplastics have direct biological effects, our review aims at raising awareness of the problem and, in order to assess the real potential impact of microplastics in Antarctica, underlines the urgency to fill the methodological gaps for their detection in all environmental matrices, and to equip scientific stations and ships with adequate wastewater treatment plants to reduce the release of microfibers.

2022 - Occurrence and distribution of legacy and emerging pollutants including plastic debris in Antarctica: Sources, distribution and impact on marine biodiversity [Articolo su rivista]
da Silva, José Roberto Machado Cunha; Bergami, Elisa; Gomes, Vicente; Corsi, Ilaria

Since the first explorers reached Antarctica, their activities have quickly impacted both land and sea and thus, together with the long-range transport, hazardous chemicals began to accumulate. It is commonly recognized that anthropogenic pollution in Antarctica can originate from either global or local sources. Heavy metals, organohalogenated compounds, hydrocarbons, and (more recently) plastic, have been found in Antarctic biota, soil sediments, seawater, air, snow and sea-ice. Studies in such remote areas are challenging and expensive, and the complexity of potential interactions occurring in such extreme climate conditions (i.e., low temperature) makes any accurate prediction on potential impacts difficult. The present review aims to summarize the current state of knowledge on occurrence and distribution of legacy and emerging pollutants in Antarctica, such as plastic, from either global or local sources. Future actions to monitor and mitigate any potential impact on Antarctic biodiversity are discussed.

2022 - Plastic occurrence, sources, and impacts in Antarctic environment and biota [Articolo su rivista]
Caruso, Gabriella; Bergami, Elisa; Singh, Neelu; Corsi, Ilaria

2022 - Textile microfibers in wild Antarctic whelk Neobuccinum eatoni (Smith, 1875) from Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea, Antarctica) [Articolo su rivista]
Bergami, E; Ferrari, E; Löder, M G J; Birarda, G; Laforsch, C; Vaccari, L; Corsi, I

Antarctica has been affected directly and indirectly by human pressure for more than two centuries and recently plastic pollution has been recognized as a further potential threat for its unique biodiversity. Global long-range transport as well as local input from anthropogenic activities are potential sources of plastic pollution in both terrestrial and marine Antarctic territories. The present study evaluated the presence of microplastics in specimens of the Antarctic whelk Neobuccinum eatoni, a key species in benthic communities of the Ross Sea, one of the largest marine protected areas worldwide. To this aim, a thermo-oxidative extraction method was applied for microplastic isolation and quantification, and polymer identification was performed by manual μ-FTIR spectroscopy. Textile (semi-)synthetic or composite microfibers (length range: 0.8-5.7 mm) were found in 27.3% of whelk specimens, suggesting a low risk of bioaccumulation along Antarctic benthic food webs in the Ross Sea. Their polymer composition (of polyethylene terephthalate and cellulose-polyamide composites) matched those of outdoor technical clothing in use by the personnel of the Italian "Mario Zucchelli" station near Terra Nova Bay in the Ross Sea. Such findings indicate that sewage from base stations may act as potential local sources of textile microplastic fibers in this remote environment. More in-depth monitoring studies aiming at defining the extent of microplastic contamination related to such sources in Antarctica are encouraged.

2022 - The Ocean Plastic Incubator Chamber (OPIC) system to monitor in situ plastic degradation at sea [Articolo su rivista]
Bergami, Elisa; Apeland, Bjorg; Sharma, Rad; Enderlein, Peter; Manno, Clara

Marine plastic pollution is a global and pervasive environmental issue. Knowledge on plastic degradation in natural settings is still very limited due to current technological limitations, hampering our understanding of plastic fate (including its breakdown into micro- and nanoplastics) and of its risk for marine ecosystems. Here we present the proof of concept of the Ocean Plastic Incubator Chamber (OPIC), a novel equipment to follow plastic degradation in situ at sea over time. OPIC consists of a frame containing a motorised rotating stage with transparent tubes sub-assemblies where reference plastic materials are incubated and exposed to natural weathering conditions for defined time multi-years period. OPIC has been designed, tested and adapted for deployment with mooring line platforms in the open ocean with potential future application in remote environments at different depths (from shallow waters to deep sea environments). This incubator will allow us to measure different markers of plastic aging in situ in the ocean for the first time, providing new insights into the multiple and locally driven dynamics regulating plastic transformations and fate at sea.

2022 - Under pressure: Nanoplastics as a further stressor for sub-Antarctic pteropods already tackling ocean acidification [Articolo su rivista]
Manno, C.; Peck, L. V.; Corsi, I.; Bergami, E.

In the Southern Ocean (SO), plastic debris has already been found in waters and sediments. Nanoplastics (<1 μm) are expected to be as pervasive as their larger counterparts, but more harmful to biological systems, being able to enter cells and provoke toxicity. In the SO, (nano)plastic pollution occurs concomitantly with other environmental threats such as ocean acidification (OA), but the potential cumulative impact of these two challenges on SO marine ecosystems is still overlooked. Here the single and combined effects of nanoplastics and OA on the sub-Antarctic pteropod Limacina retroversa are investigated under laboratory conditions, using two surface charged polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) as a proxy for nanoplastics. Sub-Antarctic pteropods are threatened by OA due to the sensitivity of their shells to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. Short-term exposure (48 h) to PS NPs compromised the ability of pteropods to counteract OA stress, resulting in a negative effect on their survival. Our results highlights the importance of addressing plastic pollution in the context of climate change to identify realistic critical thresholds of SO pteropods.

2022 - Unravelling the suitability of Branchinecta gaini as a potential biomonitor of contaminants of emerging concern in the Antarctic Peninsula region [Articolo su rivista]
Gonzalez-Aravena, M; Iturra, G; Font, A; Cardenas, Ca; Rondon, R; Bergami, E; Corsi, I

The occurrence and impact of contaminants of emerging concerns (CECs) have been investigated in Antarctica much less than in other parts of the world. Although legacy anthropogenic pollutants can reach Antarctica via long-range transport, CECs mainly originate from local sources. Here, we investigated the ability of a freshwater crustacean, the Antarctic fairy shrimp Branchinecta gaini, to cope with nanoscale titanium dioxide (n-TiO2), a widely used pigment in consumer products (e.g. paintings), including those for personal care (e.g. sunscreens). An in vivo acute short-term exposure study (9 h, n-TiO2 concentration range 50-200 mu g ml(-1)) was performed and the expression levels of several genes involved in stress response were evaluated. No effect on the expression of heat-shock protein chaperone genes was found, with the exception of Hsp70a, which was significantly upregulated at 200 mu g ml(-1) n-TiO2. Similarly, cytochrome P450 was upregulated at 100 and 200 mu g ml(-1) n-TiO2, while the expression levels of cathepsin L and of antioxidant genes such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase were significantly reduced with increasing concentrations of n-TiO2. This study shows for the first time the responsiveness and sensitivity of an Antarctic freshwater crustacean to n-TiO2 exposure and supports its suitability as a biomonitor of CECs in Antarctica.

2021 - Eco-interactions of engineered nanomaterials in the marine environment: Towards an eco-design framework [Articolo su rivista]
Corsi, I.; Bellingeri, A.; Eliso, M. C.; Grassi, G.; Liberatori, G.; Murano, C.; Sturba, L.; Vannuccini, M. L.; Bergami, E.

Marine nano-ecotoxicology has emerged with the purpose to assess the environmental risks associated with engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) among contaminants of emerging concerns entering the marine environment. ENMs’ massive production and integration in everyday life ap-plications, associated with their peculiar physical chemical features, including high biological reac-tivity, have imposed a pressing need to shed light on risk for humans and the environment. Environmental safety assessment, known as ecosafety, has thus become mandatory with the perspective to develop a more holistic exposure scenario and understand biological effects. Here, we review the current knowledge on behavior and impact of ENMs which end up in the marine environment. A focus on titanium dioxide (n-TiO2) and silver nanoparticles (AgNPs), among metal-based ENMs massively used in commercial products, and polymeric NPs as polystyrene (PS), largely adopted as proxy for nanoplastics, is made. ENMs eco-interactions with chemical molecules including (bio)nat-ural ones and anthropogenic pollutants, forming eco-and bio-coronas and link with their uptake and toxicity in marine organisms are discussed. An ecologically based design strategy (eco-design) is proposed to support the development of new ENMs, including those for environmental applications (e.g., nanoremediation), by balancing their effectiveness with no associated risk for marine organisms and humans.

2021 - Interplay Between Nanoplastics and the Immune System of the Mediterranean Sea Urchin Paracentrotus lividus [Articolo su rivista]
Murano, C.; Bergami, E.; Liberatori, G.; Palumbo, A.; Corsi, I.

The present study highlights for the first time the interplay between model nanoplastics, such as the carboxyl-modified polystyrene nanoparticles (PS-COOH, 60 nm) NPs and the coelomocytes of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, a benthic grazer widely distributed in Mediterranean coastal area, upon acute in vitro exposure (4 h) (5 and 25 μg mL–1). Insight into PS-COOH trafficking (uptake and clearance) and effects on immune cell functions (i.e., cell viability, lysosomal membrane stability, and phagocytosis) are provided. Dynamic Light Scattering analysis reveals that PS NP suspensions in CF undergo a quick agglomeration, more pronounced for PS-COOH (608.3 ± 43 nm) compared to PS-NH2 (329.2 ± 5 nm). However, both PS NPs are still found as nano-scale agglomerates in CF after 4 h of exposure, as shown by the polydispersity index > 0.3 associated with the presence of different PS NP size populations in the CF. The observed changes in ζ-potential upon suspension in CF (–11.1 ± 3 mV and –12.1 ± 4 mV for PS-COOH and PS-NH2, respectively) confirm the formation of a bio-corona on both PS NPs. Optical fluorescence microscopy and fluorimetric analyses using fluorescently labeled PS-COOH (60 nm) reveal a fast uptake of PS-COOH primarily by phagocytes within 1 h of exposure. Upon transfer to PS NP-free CF, a significant decrease in fluorescence signal is observed, suggesting a fast cell clearance. No effect on cell viability is observed after 4 h of exposure to PS-COOH, however a significant decrease in lysosomal membrane stability (23.7 ± 4.8%) and phagocytic capacity (63.43 ± 3.4%) is observed at the highest concentration tested. Similarly, a significant reduction in cell viability, lysosomal membrane stability and phagocytosis is found upon exposure to PS-NH2 (25 μg mL–1), which confirms the important role of surface charges in triggering immunotoxicity. Overall, our results show that, although being quickly internalized, PS-COOH can be easily eliminated by the coelomocytes but may still be able to trigger an immune response upon long-term exposure scenarios. Taking into account that sediments along Mediterranean coasts are a sink for micro- and nanoplastics, the latter can reach concentrations able to exceed toxicity-thresholds for marine benthic species.

2021 - New insights into the structure and function of the prokaryotic communities colonizing plastic debris collected in King George Island (Antarctica): Preliminary observations from two plastic fragments [Articolo su rivista]
Cappello, S.; Caruso, G.; Bergami, E.; Macri, A.; Venuti, V.; Majolino, D.; Corsi, I.

In Antarctic regions, the composition and metabolic activity of microbial assemblages associated with plastic debris (“plastisphere”) are almost unknown. A macroplastic item from land (MaL, 30 cm) and a mesoplastic from the sea (MeS, 4 mm) were collected in Maxwell Bay (King George Island, South Shetland) and analyzed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy in attenuated total reflectance geometry (FTIR-ATR), which confirmed a polystyrene foam and a composite high-density polyethylene composition for MaL and MeS, respectively. The structure and function of the two plastic-associated prokaryotic communities were studied by complementary 16S ribosomal RNA gene clone libraries, total bacterioplankton and culturable heterotrophic bacterial counts, enzymatic activities of the whole community and enzymatic profiles of bacterial isolates. Results showed that Gamma- and Betaproteobacteria (31% and 28%, respectively) dominated in MeS, while Beta- and Alphaproteobacteria (21% and 13%, respectively) in MaL. Sequences related to oil degrading bacteria (Alcanivorax,Marinobacter) confirmed the known anthropogenic pressure in King George Island. This investigation on plastic-associated prokaryotic structure and function represents the first attempt to characterize the ecological role of plastisphere in this Antarctic region and provides the necessary background for future research on the significance of polymer type, surface characteristics and environmental conditions in shaping the plastisphere.

2021 - Pioneer settlement of the cold-water coral Desmophyllum dianthus (Esper, 1794) on plastic [Articolo su rivista]
Bergami, Elisa; Caroselli, Erik; Vaccari, Lisa; Corsi, Ilaria; Semenov, Alexander; Macali, Armando

Larval settlement is a critical step for sessile benthic species such as corals, whose ability to thrive on diverse natural and anthropogenic substrates may lead to a competitive advantage in the colonization of new environments with respect to a narrow tolerance for a specific kind of substratum. Plastic debris, widespread in marine waters, provides a large, motile, and solid substratum supporting a highly diverse biological community. Here we present the first observation of a floating plastic bottle colonized by the deep-sea coral Desmophyllum dianthus. The density pattern and co-occurring species composition suggest a pioneer behavior of this coral species, whose peculiar morphologic plasticity response when interacting with the plastic substrate (i.e., low density polyethylene) has not been observed before. The tolerance of D. dianthus for such plastic substrate may affect ecological processes in deep water environments, disrupting interspecific substrate competition in the benthic community.

2021 - Single and combined toxicity of amino-functionalized polystyrene nanoparticles with potassium dichromate and copper sulfate on brine shrimp Artemia franciscana larvae [Articolo su rivista]
Machado, A. J. T.; Mataribu, B.; Serrao, C.; da Silva Silvestre, L.; Farias, D. F.; Bergami, E.; Corsi, I.; Marques-Santos, L. F.

The increasing use and disposal of plastics has become a persistent problem in the marine environment, calling for studies that refer to realistic scenarios to understand their effects on biota. Particularly, the understanding about the effects of co-exposure with nanoplastic particles and metals on aquatic organisms is still limited. The present work aimed to investigate the acute toxicity of amino-functionalized polystyrene nanoparticles (PS-NH2; 50 nm) as proxy for nanoplastics on brine shrimp Artemia franciscana larvae under different culture conditions and at different stages of development, as well as the combined effect with two reference toxicants — potassium dichromate (K2Cr2O7) and copper sulfate (CuSO4). Nauplii (instar II or III larval stages) were exposed to different concentrations of PS-NH2 (0.005 to 5 μg mL-1) for up to 48 h, with or without agitation in order to mimic a more realistic environmental scenario. Larval mobility and PS-NH2 accumulation were monitored under microscopy. PS-NH2 alone showed toxicity only at the highest concentration tested (5 μg mL-1) regardless the incubation method used (61.2 + 3.1% and 65.0 + 4.5% with and without agitation, respectively). Moreover, instar III stage was the most sensitive to PS-NH2 exposure (38.2% immobility in 24 h of exposure; 5 μg mL-1). Evidence of PS-NH2 retention in the gastrointestinal tract in a concentration- and time-dependent manner was also obtained. Mixtures of PS-NH2 (0.005 and 5 μg mL-1) with different concentrations of K2Cr2O7 increased the immobilization rate of the larvae after 48 h of exposure, when compared to the K2Cr2O7 alone. Similar results were observed for CuSO4 in the co-exposure conditions at different concentrations. However, exposing nauplii to a mixture of PS-NH2 (0.005 μg mL-1) and CuSO4 decreased immobilization rate, in comparison to the group exposed to CuSO4 alone. The present work highlights the potential risk posed by nanoplastics to zooplanktonic species through their interaction with other toxicants.

2021 - Special issue plastics in polar regions [Articolo su rivista]
Corsi, I.; Bergami, E.; Caruso, G.

2021 - Suitability of Nanoparticles to Face Benzo(a)pyrene-Induced Genetic and Chromosomal Damage in M. galloprovincialis. An In Vitro Approach [Articolo su rivista]
Bernardeschi, Margherita; Guidi, Patrizia; Palumbo, Mara; Genovese, Massimo; Alfè, Michela; Gargiulo, Valentina; Lucchesi, Paolo; Scarcelli, Vittoria; Falleni, Alessandra; Bergami, Elisa; Freyria, Francesca S.; Bonelli, Barbara; Corsi, Ilaria; Frenzilli, Giada

Benzo(a)pyrene (B(a)P) is a well-known genotoxic agent, the removal of which from environmental matrices is mandatory, necessitating the application of cleaning strategies that are harmless to human and environmental health. The potential application of nanoparticles (NPs) in the remediation of polluted environments is of increasing interest. Here, specifically designed NPs were selected as being non-genotoxic and able to interact with B(a)P, in order to address the genetic and chromosomal damage it produces. A newly formulated pure anatase nano-titanium (nano-TiO2), a commercial mixture of rutile and anatase, and carbon black-derived hydrophilic NPs (HNP) were applied. Once it had been ascertained that the NPs selected for the work did not induce genotoxicity, marine mussel gill biopsies were exposed in vitro to B(a)P (2 g/mL), alone and in combination with the selected NPs (50 g/mL nano-TiO2, 10 g/mL HNP). DNA primary reversible damage was evaluated by means of the Comet assay. Chromosomal persistent damage was assessed on the basis of micronuclei frequency and nuclear abnormalities by means of the Micronucleus-Cytome assay. Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) was performed to investigate the mechanism of action exerted by NPs. Pure Anatase n-TiO2 was found to be the most suitable for our purpose, as it is cyto- and genotoxicity free and able to reduce the genetic and chromosomal damage associated with exposure to B(a)P.

2021 - The Emerging Issue of Plastic Pollution in Antarctica [Capitolo/Saggio]
Bergami, E.; Corsi, I.

2020 - Behavior and Bio-Interactions of Anthropogenic Particles in Marine Environment for a More Realistic Ecological Risk Assessment [Articolo su rivista]
Corsi, I.; Bergami, E.; Grassi, G.

Owing to production, usage, and disposal of nano-enabled products as well as fragmentation of bulk materials, anthropogenic nanoscale particles (NPs) can enter the natural environment and through different compartments (air, soil, and water) end up into the sea. With the continuous increase in production and associated emissions and discharges, they can reach concentrations able to exceed toxicity thresholds for living species inhabiting marine coastal areas. Behavior and fate of NPs in marine waters are driven by transformation processes occurring as a function of NP intrinsic and extrinsic properties in the receiving seawaters. All those aspects have been overlooked in ecological risk assessment. This review critically reports ecotoxicity studies in which size distribution, surface charges and bio−nano interactions have been considered for a more realistic risk assessment of NPs in marine environment. Two emerging and relevant NPs, the metal-based titanium dioxide (TiO2), and polystyrene (PS), a proxy for nanoplastics, are reviewed, and their impact on marine biota (from planktonic species to invertebrates and fish) is discussed as a function of particle size and surface charges (negative vs. positive), which affect their behavior and interaction with the biological material. Uptake of NPs is related to their nanoscale size; however, in vivo studies clearly demonstrated that transformation (agglomerates/aggregates) occurring in both artificial and natural seawater drive to different exposure routes and biological responses at cellular and organism level. Adsorption of single particles or agglomerates onto the body surface or their internalization in feces can impair motility and affect sinking or floating behavior with consequences on populations and ecological function. Particle complex dynamics in natural seawater is almost unknown, although it determines the effective exposure scenarios. Based on the latest predicted environmental concentrations for TiO2 and PS NPs in the marine environment, current knowledge gaps and future research challenges encompass the comprehensive study of bio−nano interactions. As such, the analysis of NP biomolecular coronas can enable a better assessment of particle uptake and related cellular pathways leading to toxic effects. Moreover, the formation of an environmentally derived corona (i.e., eco-corona) in seawater accounts for NP physical–chemical alterations, rebounding on interaction with living organisms and toxicity.

2020 - Disclose nanoplastic toxicity on the embryogenesis of the ascidian Ciona robusta (Phylum Chordata) [Articolo su rivista]
Eliso, M. C.; Bergami, E.; Manfra, L.; Spagnuolo, A.; Corsi, I.

Nanoplastics are considered contaminants of emerging concern at the global scale. The recent evidence of their occurrence in seawater from the Mediterranean Sea calls for a thorough evaluation of their impact on marine life and in particular on vulnerable life stages such as planktonic embryos. Here, we investigated the impact of increasing nominal concentrations of 50 nm amino-modified (PS-NH2) and 60 nm carboxy-modified (PS-COOH) polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) on the embryonic development of the ascidian Ciona robusta (phylum Chordata), a common benthic invertebrate living in Mediterranean coastal areas with the peculiarity of being an early chordate developmental model. A strong agglomeration of PS-COOH (approx. 1 µm) was observed in natural sea water (NSW) already at time 0, while PS-NH2 resulted still monodispersed (approx. 130 nm) but largely aggregated after 22 h with a microscale dimension similar to those negatively charged. However, their effect on C. robusta embryos development largely differed at 22 h: PS-COOH did not affect larvae phenotypes nor their development, while PS-NH2 caused a dose-dependent effect (EC50 (22 h) of 7.52 μg mL−1) with various degrees of phenotype malformations (from mild to severe) and impairment of larval swimming. Embryos (up to 30%) exposed to 15 µg mL−1PS-NH2 resulted not developed and the majority was unable to hatch. Calculated PS-NH2 EC50 resulted higher than those available for other marine invertebrate species, suggesting a protective role of the egg envelopes surrounding C. robusta embryos toward nanoplastics exposure.

2020 - Jellyfish as innovative bioindicator for plastic pollution [Articolo su rivista]
Macali, A.; Bergami, E.

The monitoring of plastic pollution through marine biota is a difficult task, which is receiving increasing attention nowadays. A selection of appropriate bioindicator species for plastic ingestion has been proposed, mostly covering benthic filter-feeding organisms or large marine vertebrates. However, monitoring programs involving a broad range of synergetic bioindicators are still missing. Jellyfish have recently been reported as target organisms for marine litter, being able to internalise a number of anthropogenic fragments, from macro- to microplastics. With this perspective, we consider the trophic role of jellyfish and critically discuss its use as a novel bioindicator for plastic pollution on a global scale. Being a widespread energy source in pelagic and deep-sea food webs worldwide and occurring at high densities, jellyfish may represent the invertebrate bioindicator counterpart to monitor plastic pollution in pelagic waters, along with their common predators, and we recommend its inclusion in future monitoring surveys.

2020 - Legacy and novel flame retardants from indoor dust in Antarctica: sources and human exposure [Articolo su rivista]
Corsolini, Simonetta; Metzdorff, América; Baroni, Davide; Roscales, Jose L.; Jiménez, Begoña; Cerro-Gálvez, Elena; Dachs, Jordi; Galbán-Malagón, Cristóbal; Audy, Ondřej; Kohoutek, Jiří; Přibylova, Petra; Poblete-Morales, Matias; Avendaño-Herrera, Ruben; Bergami, Elisa; Pozo, Karla

The air humidity in Antarctica is very low and this peculiar weather parameter make the use of flame retardants in research facilities highly needed for safety reasons, as fires are a major risk. Legacy and novel flame retardants (nFRs) including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), hexabromocyclododecanes (HBCDs), 1,2-bis(2,4,6- tribromophenoxy) ethane (BTBPE), Dechlorane Plus (DP), and other nFRs were measured in indoor dust sam-ples collected at research Stations in Antarctica: Gabriel de Castilla, Spain (GCS), Julio Escudero, Chile (JES), and onboard the RRS James Clark Ross, United Kingdom (RRS JCR). The GC-HRMS and LC-MS-MS analyses of dust samples revealed ∑7PBDEs of 41.5 ±43.8 ng/g in rooms at GCS, 18.7 ±11.6 ng/g at JES, and 27.2 ±37.9 ng/g onboard the RRS JCR. PBDE pattern was different between the sites and most abundant congeners were BDE-183 (40%) at GCS, BDE-99 (50%) at JES, and BDE-153 (37%) onboard the RRS JCR. The ∑(4)HBCDs were 257 ±407 ng/g, 14.9 ±14.5 ng/g, and 761 ±1043 ng/g in indoor dust collected in rooms at GCS, JES, and RRS JCR, respectively. The ∑9nFRs were 224 ±178 ng/g at GCS, 14.1 ±13.8 ng/g at JES, and 194 ±392 ng/g on the RRS JCR. Syn- and anti-DP were detected in most of the samples and both isomers showed the highest concentrations at GCS: 163 ±93.6 and 48.5 ±61.1 ng/g, respectively. The laboratory and living room showed the highest concentration of HBCDs, DPs, BTBPE. The wide variations in FR levels in dust from the three research facilities and between differently used rooms reflect the different origin of furnishing, building materials and equipment. The potential health risk associated to a daily exposure via dust ingestion was assessed for selected FRs: BDEs 47, 99, and 153, α-, β-, and γ-HBCD, BTBPE, syn- and anti-DP. Although the estimated exposures are below the available reference doses, caution is needed given the expected increasing use of novel chemicals without a comprehensive toxicological profile.

2020 - Nanoplastics affect moulting and faecal pellet sinking in Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) juveniles [Articolo su rivista]
Bergami, E.; Manno, C.; Cappello, S.; Vannuccini, M. L.; Corsi, I.

Plastic debris has been identified as a potential threat to Antarctic marine ecosystems, however, the impact of nanoplastics (< 1 μm) is currently unexplored. Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) is a keystone species of Southern Ocean pelagic ecosystems, which plays a central role in the Antarctic food webs and carbon (C) cycle. Krill has been shown to rapidly fragment microplastic beads through the digestive system, releasing nanoplastics with unknown toxicological effects. Here we exposed krill juveniles to carboxylic (eCOOH, anionic) and amino- (eNH2, cationic) polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) and we investigated lethal and sub-lethal endpoints after 48 h. The analysis of PS NP suspensions in Antarctic sea water (SW) media showed that PS-COOH formed large agglomerates (1043 ± 121 nm), while PS-NH2 kept their nominal size (56.8 ± 3 nm) during the exposure time. After 48 h, no mortality was found but increase in exuviae production (12.6 ± 1.3%) and reduced swimming activity were observed in juveniles exposed to PS-NH2. The microbial community composition in SW supports the release of krill moults upon PS NP exposure and stimulates further research on the pivotal role of krill in shaping Southern Ocean bacterial assemblages. The presence of fluorescent signal in krill faecal pellets (FPs) confirmed the waterborne ingestion and egestion of PS-COOH at 48 h of exposure. Changes in FP structure and properties were also associated to the incorporation of PS NPs regardless of their surface charge. The effects of PS NPs on krill FP properties were compared to Control 0 h as a reference for full FPs (plastic vs food) and Control 48 h as a reference for more empty-like FPs (plastic vs lack of food). Exposure to PS NPs led to a FP sinking rate comparable to Control 48 h, but significantly lower than Control 0 h (58.40 ± 23.60 m/d and 51.23 ± 28.60 m/d for PS-COOH and PS-NH2; 168.80 ± 74.58 m/d for Control 0 h). Considering the important role played by krill in the food web and C export in the Southern Ocean, the present study provides cues about the potential impact of nanoplastics on Antarctic pelagic ecosystems and their biogeochemical cycles.

2020 - Plastics everywhere: first evidence of polystyrene fragments inside the common Antarctic collembolan Cryptopygus antarcticus [Articolo su rivista]
Bergami, E.; Rota, E.; Caruso, T.; Birarda, G.; Vaccari, L.; Corsi, I.

There is evidence and serious concern that microplastics have reached the most remote regions of the planet, but how far have they travelled in terrestrial ecosystems? This study presents the first field-based evidence of plastic ingestion by a common and central component of Antarctic terrestrial food webs, the collembolan Cryptopygus antarcticus. A large piece of polystyrene (PS) foam (34 × 31 × 5 cm) covered by microalgae, moss, lichens and microfauna was found in a fellfield along the shores of the Fildes Peninsula (King George Island). The application of an improved enzymatic digestion coupled with Fourier transform infrared microscopy (µ-FTIR), unequivocally detected traces of PS (less than 100 µm) in the gut of the collembolans associated with the PS foam and documented their ability to ingest plastic. Plastics are thus entering the short Antarctic terrestrial food webs and represent a new potential stressor to polar ecosystems already facing climate change and increasing human activities. Future research should explore the effects of plastics on the composition, structure and functions of polar terrestrial biota.

2020 - Relative influence of environmental factors on biodiversity and behavioural traits of a rare mesopelagic fish, Trachipterus trachypterus (gmelin, 1789), in a continental shelf front of the Mediterranean Sea [Articolo su rivista]
Macali, A.; Semenov, A.; de Mendoza, F. P.; Dinoi, A.; Bergami, E.; Tiralongo, F.

Coastal environments can be influenced by water body masses with particular physical, chemical, and biological properties that create favourable conditions for the development of unique planktonic communities. In this study, we investigated a continental shelf front at Ponza Island (Tyrrhenian Sea) and discussed its diversity and complexity in relation to major environmental parameters. Moon phase and current direction were found to play a significant role in shaping species abundance and behaviour. During in situ observations, we also provided the first data on the behaviour of juveniles of a rare mesopelagic species, Trachipterus trachypterus, suggesting the occurrence of Batesian mimicry.

2019 - Combined effects of nanoplastics and copper on the freshwater alga Raphidocelis subcapitata [Articolo su rivista]
Bellingeri, A.; Bergami, E.; Grassi, G.; Faleri, C.; Redondo-Hasselerharm, P.; Koelmans, A. A.; Corsi, I.

Nanoplastics are recognized as able to interact with other pollutants including heavy metals, and with natural organic matter, with implications for the potential risks to biota. We investigated the interaction of carboxylated polystyrene nanoparticles (PS–COOH NPs) with copper (Cu) and algal exudates (EPS) and how such interaction could affect Cu toxicity towards the freshwater microalga Raphidocelis subcapitata. PS–COOH NPs behavior in the presence of Cu and EPS was determined by dynamic light scattering (DLS), while PS–COOH NPs surface interaction with Cu ions and EPS was investigated by fluorimetric analysis. ICP-MS was used to test Cu ion adsorption to PS–COOH NPs in the presence and absence of algae. The interaction between PS–COOH NPs and the algal cell wall was assessed by fluorescence microscopy. Short- and long-term toxicity tests were carried out in parallel to assess the impact of PS–COOH NPs on algal growth. Results showed altered nanoparticle surface charge and hydrodynamic diameter following algal EPS exposure, supporting the hypothesis of a protein corona formation. In contrast, no absorption of Cu ions was observed on PS–COOH NPs, either in the presence or absence of algae. No differences on algal growth inhibition were observed between exposure to Cu only, and to Cu in combination with PS–COOH NPs, in short-term as well as long-term tests. However, after 72 h of exposure, the adsorption of PS-COOH NPs to algal cell walls appeared to correspond to morphological alterations, revealing potential disturbances in the mitotic cycle. Our findings confirm the ability of PS–COOH NPs to interact with EPS as shown for other nanomaterials. Environmentally realistic exposure scenarios are thus needed for evaluating nanoplastic toxicity, as nanoparticles will not maintain their pristine nature once released into natural media. Prolonged exposure and use of different end-points such as cell morphological changes and EPS production seem more reliable for the investigation of nanoplastic/algal cell interactions which can drive food chain transfer of nanoplastics and ultimately toxicity.

2019 - Do plastics serve as a possible vector for the spread of antibiotic resistance? First insights from bacteria associated to a polystyrene piece from King George Island (Antarctica) [Articolo su rivista]
Laganà, Pasqualina; Caruso, Gabriella; Corsi, Ilaria; Bergami, Elisa; Venuti, Valentina; Majolino, Domenico; La Ferla, Rosabruna; Azzaro, Maurizio; Cappello, Simone

The retrieval of a polystyrene macro-plastic piece stranded on the shores in King George Island (South Shetlands, Antarctica) gave the opportunity to explore the associated bacterial flora. A total of 27 bacterial isolates were identified by molecular 16s rRNA gene sequencing and 7 strains were selected and screened for their ability to produce biofilm and antibiotic susceptibility profiles. All the bacterial isolates were able to produce biofilm. The Kirby-Bauer disk diffusion susceptibility test to 34 antibiotics showed multiple antibiotic resistances against the molecules cefuroxime and cefazolin (belonging to cephalosporins), cinoxacin (belonging to quinolones) and ampicillin, amoxicillin + clavulanic acid, carbenicillin and mezlocillin (belonging to beta-lactams). The obtained results suggest that plastics can serve as vectors for the spread of multiple resistances to antibiotics across Antarctic marine environments and underline the relevance of future studies on this topic.

2019 - Exposure to a nanosilver-enabled consumer product results in similar accumulation and toxicity of silver nanoparticles in the marine mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis [Articolo su rivista]
Ale, Analía; Liberatori, Giulia; Vannuccini, Maria Luisa; Bergami, Elisa; Ancora, Stefania; Mariotti, Giacomo; Bianchi, Nicola; Galdopórpora, Juan M.; Desimone, Martín F.; Cazenave, Jimena; Corsi, Ilaria

The incorporation of silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) in commercial products is increasing rapidly. The consequent release of AgNPs into domestic and industrial wastewater raises environmental concerns due to their anti-microbial properties and toxicity to non-target aquatic organisms. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of nanArgen™ (Nanotek S.A.), a AgNP-enabled consumer product, in the marine bivalve Mytilus galloprovincialis. Two environmentally relevant concentrations of nanArgen™ (1 and 10 μg/L) were tested in vivo for 96 h, and Ag was quantified in mussel soft tissue and natural seawater (NSW). nanArgen™ suspensions were characterized via TEM, SEM, EDS, DLS, and UV–vis optical analysis. Several molecular and biochemical responses were investigated in exposed mussels: lysosomal membrane stability by Neutral Red Retention Time (NRRT) assay; micronucleus (MN) frequency in hemocytes; metallothionein (MT) protein content and gene expression (mt10 and mt20); catalase (CAT) and glutathione-S-transferase (GST) activities; malondialdehyde (MDA) accumulation in digestive glands; and efflux activity of ATP-binding cassette transport proteins (ABC) in gill biopsies. SEM, TEM and DLS analyses confirmed the presence of well-defined AgNPs in nanArgen™ which were roughly spherical with an average particle size of approx. 30 ± 10 nm. DLS analysis revealed the formation of AgNP aggregates in nanArgen™ suspension in NSW (Z-average of 547.80 ± 90.23 nm; PDI of 0.044). A significant concentration-dependent accumulation of Ag was found in mussels’ whole soft tissue in agreement with a concentration-dependent decrease in NRRT and an increase of MN frequency in hemocytes and GST activities in digestive glands. A significant increase in MDA levels and MT via both molecular and biochemical tests, were also observed but only at the highest nanArgen™ concentration (10 μg/L). No changes were observed in CAT activities. ABC efflux activities in gill biopsies showed a significant decrease (p < 0.05) only at the lowest concentration (1 μg/L). On such basis, nanArgen™ is shown to be able to induce toxicity and Ag accumulation in marine mussels similarly to AgNPs and in short-term exposure conditions at environmentally relevant concentrations. AgNP-enabled products, instead of pristine AgNPs, should be the focus of future ecotoxicity studies in order to address any risks associated to their widespread use, disposal and uncontrolled release into the aquatic environment for non target species.

2019 - Nanoparticle-Biological Interactions in a Marine Benthic Foraminifer [Articolo su rivista]
Ciacci, C.; Grimmelpont, M. V.; Corsi, I.; Bergami, E.; Curzi, D.; Burini, D.; Bouchet, V. M. P.; Ambrogini, P.; Gobbi, P.; Ujiie, Y.; Ishitani, Y.; Coccioni, R.; Bernhard, J. M.; Frontalini, F.

The adverse effects of engineered nanomaterials (ENM) in marine environments have recently attracted great attention although their effects on marine benthic organisms such as foraminifera are still largely overlooked. Here we document the effects of three negatively charged ENM, different in size and composition, titanium dioxide (TiO2), polystyrene (PS) and silicon dioxide (SiO2), on a microbial eukaryote (the benthic foraminifera Ammonia parkinsoniana) using multiple approaches. This research clearly shows the presence, within the foraminiferal cytoplasm, of metallic (Ti) and organic (PS) ENM that promote physiological stress. Specifically, marked increases in the accumulation of neutral lipids and enhanced reactive oxygen species production occurred in ENM-treated specimens regardless of ENM type. This study indicates that ENM represent ecotoxicological risks for this microbial eukaryote and presents a new model for the neglected marine benthos by which to assess natural exposure scenarios.

2019 - Polystyrene nanoparticles affect the innate immune system of the Antarctic sea urchin Sterechinus neumayeri [Articolo su rivista]
Bergami, E.; Krupinski Emerenciano, A.; González-Aravena, M.; Cárdenas, C. A.; Hernández, P.; Silva, J. R. M. C.; Corsi, I.

Plastic debris has been recognised as a potential stressor for Antarctic marine organisms. In this study, the effects of surface charged polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) on the immune cells (coelomocytes) of the Antarctic sea urchin Sterechinus neumayeri were assessed through in vitro short-term cultures. The behaviour of anionic carboxylated (PS-COOH) and cationic amino-modified (PS-NH2) NPs in filtered natural sea water (NSW) from King George Island (South Shetland Islands) was characterised by dynamic light scattering. Cellular morphology, NP uptake, phagocytic capacity and gene expression were evaluated after 6 and 24 h of exposure to 1 and 5 μg mL−1 PS NPs. Secondary characterisation showed an initial good dispersion of PS NPs in NSW, followed by nano-scale aggregation after 24 h. Both PS NPs affected cellular phagocytosis and generated an inflammatory response against oxidative stress and apoptosis at the molecular level. Fluorescently labelled PS-COOH aggregates were internalised by phagocytes and associated to the modulation of genes related to external challenges, antioxidant responses and cell protection against stress and apoptosis. Exposure to PS-NH2 caused a strong decrease in phagocytic capacity and the formation of cellular debris at 5 μg mL−1 after 24 h, but low gene modulation, suggesting a threshold in coelomocytes defence ability against PS-NH2. This study represents the first attempt to assess the impact of nanoplastics on Antarctic marine organisms. Our findings demonstrate that PS NPs with different surface charges constitute a challenge for S. neumayeri immune cells.

2019 - Proteomic profile of the hard corona of charged polystyrene nanoparticles exposed to sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus coelomic fluid highlights potential drivers of toxicity [Articolo su rivista]
Grassi, Giacomo; Landi, Claudia; Della Torre, Camilla; Bergami, Elisa; Bini, Luca; Corsi, Ilaria

Polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) are considered an upcoming threat to marine ecosystems. When NPs encounter biological fluids, they are readily covered by a biomolecular coating, named the “protein corona”, which critically drives the biological fate and toxicity of NPs. Here we provide the first attempt to identify key components of protein coronas of charged amino- and carboxyl-functionalized (PS-NH2 and PS-COOH, respectively) PS NPs exposed to coelomic fluid (CF) of the Mediterranean sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus. The formation of protein coronas conferred identical colloidal features to both positively and negatively charged PS NPs, which acquired a negative ζ potential and monodisperse size distribution in sea urchin CF. Proteomic analysis revealed striking functional analogies of proteins identified from NP–coronas, especially entailing the potential to promote cell association and internalization of both NP types, as mediated by adsorbed protein species. Such basal findings strengthen the importance of the biological identity of NPs in the evaluation of the ecotoxicity potential of polymeric NPs.

2019 - Time-dependent effects of polystyrene nanoparticles in brine shrimp Artemia franciscana at physiological, biochemical and molecular levels [Articolo su rivista]
Varó, Inmaculada; Perini, Aurora; Torreblanca, Amparo; Garcia, Yaiza; Bergami, Elisa; Vannuccini, MARIA LUISA; Corsi, Ilaria

Micro- (<5 mm) and nanoplastics (<1 μm) are emerging threats for marine ecosystems worldwide. Brine shrimp Artemia is recognized as a suitable model among planktonic species for studying the impact of polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) through short and long-term bioassays. Our study aims to evaluate the time-dependent effects of cationic amino-modified PS-NH2 (50 nm) in A. franciscana after short- (48 h) and long-term exposure (14 days). For this purpose, nauplii were exposed to a concentration range of PS-NH2 (0.1, 1, 3 and 10 μg/mL) in natural sea water (NSW), and physiological, biochemical and molecular responses were investigated. Short-term exposure to PS-NH2 caused a decrease in nauplii growth and affected the development in a concentration-dependent manner, long-term exposure impaired the survival, but not the growth and feeding behavior. Oxidative stress was detected after short term exposure as the decrease in the activity of antioxidant enzymes, and was fully evident in the long-term as lipid peroxidation, suggesting an accumulative effect. The decrease in Cholinesterase (ChE) activity observed indicates possible neurotoxic action of PS-NH2. Also, Carboxylesterase (CbE) inhibition by PS-NH2, described for the first time in this study, anticipates potential effects in biotransformation of exogenous and endogenous compounds, being the crustacean juvenile hormone methyl farnesoate (MF) that regulates development and molting, one candidate. Furthermore, short- and long-term exposure to PS-NH2 affect the expression of genes involved in cell protection, development and molting. Overall, our results reveal that low PS-NH2 concentrations induce physiological, biochemical and molecular (changes in gene expression) alterations in Artemia, and point at their potential risk for this model organism, supporting the general concern about nanoplastics occurrences in aquatic environments and their ability to represent an ecological threat for aquatic zooplanktonic species. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.

2018 - Cationic polystyrene nanoparticle and the sea urchin immune system: biocorona formation, cell toxicity, and multixenobiotic resistance phenotype [Articolo su rivista]
Marques-Santos, L. F.; Grassi, G.; Bergami, E.; Faleri, C.; Balbi, T.; Salis, A.; Damonte, G.; Canesi, L.; Corsi, I.

In order to assess the impact of nanoplastics on marine species, polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) have been largely used as model particles. Here we studied the effects of 50 nm amino-modified PS-NH2 on Mediterranean sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus immune system cells (coelomocytes) in the presence of celomic fluid (CF) and at different NP concentrations (1, 5, 10, and 25 μg mL−1) and experimental conditions (absence or presence of EDTA). PS-NH2 acquired a protein corona once incubated with CF, dominated by the toposome precursor protein (TPP). In short-term cultures, a significant concentration- and time-dependent decrease in lysosomal membrane stability and apoptotic-like nuclear alterations were observed in phagocytes upon exposure to PS-NH2 (10 and 25 µg mL−1) in CF but they resulted abolished in the presence of EDTA confirming the role of TPP in triggering PS-NH2-coelomocytes interaction and toxicity. PS-NH2 did not alter MXR phenotype but the observed dose-dependent decrease in calcein accumulation suggests the ability of PS-NH2 to affect pump’s efflux activity. Overall results encourage additional studies on positively charged nanoplastics, since the observed effects on sea urchin coelomocytes as well as the TPP corona formation might represent a first step for addressing their impact on sensitive marine species.

2018 - Co-exposure to titanium dioxide nanoparticles does not affect cadmium toxicity in radish seeds (Raphanus sativus) [Articolo su rivista]
Manesh, R. R.; Grassi, G.; Bergami, E.; Marques-Santos, L. F.; Faleri, C.; Liberatori, G.; Corsi, I.

Recent developments on environmental fate models indicate that as nano waste, engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) could reach terrestrial ecosystems thus potentially affecting environmental and human health. Plants can be therefore exposed to ENMs but controversial data in terms of fate and toxicity are currently available. Furthermore, there is a current lack of information on complex interactions/transformations to which ENMs undergo in the natural environment as for instance interacting with existing toxic compounds. The aim of the present study was to assess the behavior and biological effects of titanium dioxide nanoparticles (n-TiO2) (Aeroxide P25, Degussa Evonik) and its interaction with cadmium (CdCl2) in plants using radish seeds (Raphanus sativus L. Parvus) as model species. Radish seeds were exposed to n-TiO2(1â 1000 mg/L) and CdCl2(1â 250 mg/L) alone and in combination using a seed germination and seedling growth toxicity test OECD 208. Percentage of seed germination, germination index (GI) and root elongation were calculated. Cell morphology and oxidative stress parameters as glutathione-S-transferase (GST) and catalase activities (CAT) were measured in radish seeds after 5 days of exposure. Z-Average, PdI and Z-potential of n-TiO2in Milli-Q water as exposure medium were also determined. DLS analysis showed small aggregates of n-TiO2, negative Z-potential and stable PdI in seed's exposure media. Germination percentage, GI and root length resulted affected by n-TiO2exposure compared to controls. In particular, n-TiO2at 1 mg/L and 100 mg/L did not affect radish seeds germination (100%) while at concentration of 10 mg/L, 200 mg/L, 500 mg/L, and 1000 mg/L a slight but not significant decrease of germination % was observed. Similarly root length and GI resulted significantly higher in seeds exposed to 10 mg/L and 200 mg/L compared to 1 mg/L, 100 mg/L, 500 mg/L, 1000 mg/L and control (p < 0.05). On the opposite, CdCl2significantly abolished germination % and GI compared to control seeds and a concentration dependent decrease on root elongation was observed against controls (p < 0.05). As well, significant decrease of germination %, GI and root elongation was observed in seeds co-exposed to n-TiO2and CdCl2at the highest concentrations (1000 mg/L n-TiO2and 250 mg/L CdCl2) compared to co-exposed seeds at low concentration (1 mg/L n-TiO2and 1 mg/L CdCl2) and controls (p < 0.05). Root elongation significantly increase compared to control at the lowest co-exposure concentration (p < 0.05). Similarly at intermediate concentrations of 10 and 100 mg/L in co-exposure conditions, n-TiO2did not affect CdCl2toxicity. Concerning antioxidant enzymes, a significant increase of CAT activity in seeds exposed to single high n-TiO2concentration (1000 mg/L) was observed while n-TiO2(1 mg/L), CdCl2(1 and 250 mg/L) and co-exposure resulted significantly decreased compared to controls (p < 0.05). Regarding GST activity, a slight increase in seeds exposed to 1000 mg/L n-TiO2but no significantly was observed, however both n-TiO2and CdCl2alone (1 and 250 mg/L, respectively) or in combinations caused a significant decrease in GST activity (p < 0.05). Therefore, overall data support the hypothesis that the presence of n-TiO2do not affect the toxicity of CdCl2at least at the highest concentration (100 and 250 mg/L) in radish seeds. Morphological alterations in nuclei, vacuoles and shape of radish root cells were observed upon single Cd exposure and not abolished in the presence of n-TiO2. Nevertheless, although n-TiO2seems not to reduce Cd toxicity at high concentration (up to 250 mg/L), interactions cannot be excluded based on obtained results.

2018 - Episodic records of jellyfish ingestion of plastic items reveal a novel pathway for trophic transference of marine litter [Articolo su rivista]
Macali, A.; Semenov, A.; Venuti, V.; Crupi, Vincenzo; D’Amico, F.; Rossi, B.; Corsi, I.; Bergami, E.

Invertebrates represent the most plentiful component of marine biodiversity. To date, only few species have been documented for marine litter intake. Here, we report for the first time the presence of macroplastic debris in a jellyfish species. Such novel target to plastic pollution highlights an under studied vector of marine litter along marine trophic web, raising further concern over the impact on marine wildlife.

2018 - Novel brominated flame retardants (n-BFRs) in indoor dust from Bases and vessel in Antarctica [Poster]
METZDORFF GALLEGOS, AMÉRICA REBECA; Pozo, K.; Roscales, J. L.; Jiménez, B.; Cerro, E.; Dachs, J.; Přibylová, P.; Galbán-Malagón, C.; Bergami, E.; Corsolini, S.

2018 - Novel brominated flame retardants (n-BFRs) in indoor dust from Bases and vessel in Antarctica [Capitolo/Saggio]
5. Metzdorff, A.; Pozo, K.; Roscales, J. L.; Jiménez, B.; Cerro, E.; Dachs, J.; Přibylová, P.; Galbán-Malagón, C.; Bergami, E.; Corsolini, S.

2018 - Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in Indoor Environments from Antarctica [Abstract in Atti di Convegno]
3. Metzdorff1, A.; Pozo, K.; Roscales, J. L.; MARTINEZ DEL CERRO, MARIA ELENA; Jiménez, B.; Galbán-Malagón, C.; Bergami, E.; Poblete, M.; Avendaño, R.; Přibylová, P.; Dachs, J; Corsolini, S.

2018 - Titanium dioxide nanoparticles alter routine metabolism and cause histopathological alterations in oreochromis niloticus [Articolo su rivista]
Rezende, Karina Fernandes Oliveira; Bergami, Elisa; Alves, Kelison Venício Brito; Corsi, Ilaria; Barbieri, Edison

Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles (TiO2NPs) could cause alterations in exposed aquatic species, in terms of oxygen consumption, ammonia excretion and tissues functionality therefore, the aim of the present study is to evaluate the effects of acute exposure to different concentrations of TiO2NPs (0.1, 0.5, 1.0 and 2.5 mgL-1) on routine metabolism (oxygen consumption and ammonia excretion) and histological parameters (branchial and hepatic) in Oreochromis niloticus. After 24 hours, we observed an increase in oxygen consumption of 2.36 and 3.23 times in groups exposed to 1.0 and 2.5 mgL-1 of TiO2NPs respectively, as well as an increase in ammonia excretion of 3.54, 4.0 and 4.82 times higher in groups exposed to 0.5, 1.0 and 2.5 mgL-1 of TiO2NPs respectively, compared to the control group. Histological analysis showed, after 72 hours, moderate to severe alterations in both gills and liver of TiO2 exposed fish at concentrations 1.0 and 2.5 mgL-1, the severity and occurrence of the alteration observed was grade 3 (severe and extensive pathological alterations). We concluded that waterborne exposure of Nile tilapia to TiO2NPs caused alteration in routine metabolism and histological parameters in a dose-dependent manner.

2017 - Amino-modified polystyrene nanoparticles affect signalling pathways of the sea urchin (Paracentrotus lividus) embryos [Articolo su rivista]
Pinsino, Annalisa; Bergami, Elisa; Della Torre, Camilla; Vannuccini, Maria Luisa; Addis, Piero; Secci, Marco; Dawson, Kenneth A.; Matranga, Valeria; Corsi, Ilaria

Polystyrene nanoparticles have been shown to pose serious risk to marine organisms including sea urchin embryos based on their surface properties and consequently behaviour in natural sea water. The aim of this study is to investigate the toxicity pathways of amino polystyrene nanoparticles (PS-NH2, 50 nm) in Paracentrotus lividus embryos in terms of development and signalling at both protein and gene levels. Two sub-lethal concentrations of 3 and 4 μg/mL of PS-NH2 were used to expose sea urchin embryos in natural sea water (PS-NH2 as aggregates of 143 ± 5 nm). At 24 and 48 h post-fertilisation (hpf) embryonic development was monitored and variations in the levels of key proteins involved in stress response and development (Hsp70, Hsp60, MnSOD, Phospho-p38 Mapk) as well as the modulation of target genes (Pl-Hsp70, Pl-Hsp60, Pl-Cytochrome b, Pl-p38 Mapk, Pl-Caspase 8, Pl-Univin) were measured. At 48 hpf various striking teratogenic effects were observed such as the occurrence of cells/masses randomly distributed, severe skeletal defects and delayed development. At 24 hpf a significant up-regulation of Pl-Hsp70, Pl-p38 Mapk, Pl-Univin and Pl-Cas8 genes was found, while at 48 hpf only for Pl-Univin was observed. Protein profile showed different patterns as a significant increase of Hsp70 and Hsp60 only after 48 hpf compared to controls. Conversely, P-p38 Mapk protein significantly increased at 24 hpf and decreased at 48 hpf. Our findings highlight that PS-NH2 are able to disrupt sea urchin embryos development by modulating protein and gene profile providing new understandings into the signalling pathways involved.

2017 - Comparative ecotoxicity of polystyrene nanoparticles in natural seawater and reconstituted seawater using the rotifer Brachionus plicatilis [Articolo su rivista]
Manfra, L.; Rotini, A.; Bergami, E.; Grassi, G.; Faleri, C.; Corsi, I.

The impact of nanoplastics using model polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs), anionic (PS-COOH) and cationic (PS-NH2), has been investigated on the marine rotifer Brachionus plicatilis, a major component of marine zooplanktonic species. The role of different surface charges in affecting PS NP behaviour and toxicity has been considered in high ionic strength media. To this aim, the selected media were standardized reconstituted seawater (RSW) and natural sea water (NSW), the latter resembling more natural exposure scenarios. Hatched rotifer larvae were exposed for 24 h and 48 h to both PS NPs in the range of 0.5â 50 μg/ml using PS NP suspensions made in RSW and NSW. No effects on lethality upon exposure to anionic NPs were observed despite a clear gut retention was evident in all exposed rotifers. On the contrary, cationic NPs caused lethality to rotifer larvae but LC50values resulted lower in rotifers exposed in RSW (LC50=2.75±0.67 µg/ml) compared to those exposed in NSW (LC50=6.62±0.87 µg/ml). PS NPs showed similar pattern of aggregation in both high ionic strength media (RSW and NSW) but while anionic NPs resulted in large microscale aggregates (Z-average 1109 ± 128 nm and 998±67 nm respectively), cationic NP aggregates were still in nano-size forms (93.99 ± 11.22 nm and 108.3 ± 12.79 nm). Both PDI and Z-potential of PS NPs slightly differed in the two media suggesting a role of their different surface charges in affecting their behaviour and stability. Our findings confirm the role of surface charges in nanoplastic behaviour in salt water media and provide a first evidence of a different toxicity in rotifers using artificial media (RSW) compared to natural one (NSW). Such evidence poses the question on how to select the best medium in standardized ecotoxicity assays in order to properly assess their hazard to marine life in natural environmental scenarios.

2017 - L’impatto delle plastiche invisibili sul plancton marino [Articolo su rivista]
Bergami, Elisa; Pugnalini, Serena; Faleri, Claudia; Corsi, Ilaria

2017 - Long-term toxicity of surface-charged polystyrene nanoplastics to marine planktonic species Dunaliella tertiolecta and Artemia franciscana [Articolo su rivista]
Bergami, E.; Pugnalini, S.; Vannuccini, M. L.; Manfra, L.; Faleri, C.; Savorelli, F.; Dawson, K. A.; Corsi, I.

Plastic pollution has been globally recognized as a critical issue for marine ecosystems and nanoplastics constitute one of the last unexplored areas to understand the magnitude of this threat. However, current difficulties in sampling and identifying nano-sized debris make hard to assess their occurrence in marine environment. Polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) are largely used as nanoplastics in ecotoxicological studies and although acute exposures have been already investigated, long-term toxicity on marine organisms is unknown. Our study aims at evaluating the effects of 40 nm PS anionic carboxylated (PS-COOH) and 50 nm cationic amino-modified (PS-NH2) NPs in two planktonic species, the green microalga Dunaliella tertiolecta and the brine shrimp Artemia franciscana, respectively prey and predator. PS NP behaviour in exposure media was determined through DLS, while their toxicity to microalgae and brine shrimps evaluated through 72 h growth inhibition test and 14 d long-term toxicity test respectively. Moreover, the expression of target genes (i.e. clap and cstb), having a role in brine shrimp larval growth and molting, was measured in 48 h brine shrimp larvae. A different behaviour of the two PS NPs in exposure media as well as diverse toxicity to the two planktonic species was observed. PS-COOH formed micro-scale aggregates (Z-Average > 1 μm) and did not affect the growth of microalgae up to 50 μg/ml or that of brine shrimps up to 10 μg/ml. However, these negatively charged NPs were adsorbed on microalgae and accumulated (and excreted) in brine shrimps, suggesting a potential trophic transfer from prey to predator. On the opposite, PS-NH2-formed nano-scale aggregates (Z-Average 

2016 - Interactions of cationic polystyrene nanoparticles with marine bivalve hemocytes in a physiological environment: Role of soluble hemolymph proteins [Articolo su rivista]
Canesi, Laura; Ciacci, Caterina; Fabbri, Rita; Balbi, Teresa; Salis, Annalisa; Damonte, Gianluca; Cortese, Katia; Caratto, Valentina; Monopoli, Marco P.; Dawson, Kenneth; Bergami, Elisa; Corsi, Ilaria

The bivalve Mytilus galloprovincialis has proven as a suitable model invertebrate for evaluating the potential impact of nanoparticles (NPs) in the marine environment. In particular, in mussels, the immune system represents a sensitive target for different types of NPs. In environmental conditions, both NP intrinsic properties and those of the receiving medium will affect particle behavior and consequent bioavailability/uptake/toxicity. However, the evaluation of the biological effects of NPs requires additional understanding of how, once within the organism, NPs interact at the molecular level with cells in a physiological environment. In mammalian systems, different NPs associate with serum soluble components, organized into a "protein corona", which affects particle interactions with target cells. However, no information is available so far on the interactions of NPs with biological fluids of aquatic organisms.In this work, the influence of hemolymph serum (HS) on the in vitro effects of amino modified polystyrene NPs (PS-NH2) on Mytilus hemocytes was investigated. Hemocytes were incubated with PS-NH2 suspensions in HS (1, 5 and 50 μg/mL) and the results were compared with those obtained in ASW medium. Cell functional parameters (lysosomal membrane stability, oxyradical production, phagocytosis) were evaluated, and morphological changes were investigated by TEM. The activation state of the signalling components involved in Mytilus immune response (p38 MAPK and PKC) was determined. The results show that in the presence of HS, PS-NH2 increased cellular damage and ROS production with respect to ASW medium. The effects were apparently mediated by disregulation of p38 MAPK signalling. The formation of a PS-NH2-protein corona in HS was investigated by centrifugation, and 1D- gel electrophoresis and nano-HPLC-ESI-MS/MS. The results identified the Putative C1q domain containing protein (MgC1q6) as the only component of the PS-NH2 hard protein corona in Mytilus hemolymph. These data represent the first evidence for the formation of a NP bio-corona in aquatic organisms and underline the importance of the recognizable biological identity of NPs in physiological exposure medium when testing their potential impact environmental model organisms. Although the results obtained in vitro do not entirely reflect a realistic exposure scenario and the more complex formation of a bio-corona that is likely to occur in vivo, these data will contribute to a better understanding of the effects of NPs in marine invertebrates.

2015 - Evidence for immunomodulation and apoptotic processes induced by cationic polystyrene nanoparticles in the hemocytes of the marine bivalve Mytilus [Articolo su rivista]
Canesi, L; Ciacci, C.; Bergami, E.; Monopoli, M. P.; Dawson, K. A.; Papa, S.; Canonico, B.; Corsi, I.

Polymeric nanoparticles can reach the marine environment from different sources as weathering of plastic debris and nanowaste. Nevertheless, few data are available on their fate and impact on marine biota. Polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) can be considered as a model for studying the effects of nanoplastics in marine organisms: recent data on amino-modified PS NPs (PS-NH2) toxicity in sea urchin embryos underlined that marine invertebrates can be biological targets of nanoplastics. Cationic PS NPs have been shown to be toxic to mammalian cells, where they can induce apoptotic processes; however, no information is available on their effects and mechanisms of action in the cells of marine organisms. In this work, the effects of 50 nm PS-NH2 were investigated in the hemocytes of the marine bivalve Mytilus galloprovincialis. Hemocytes were exposed to different concentrations (1, 5, 50 mg/ml) of PS-NH2 suspension in ASW. Clear signs of cytoxicity were evident only at the highest concentrations (50 mg/ml). On the other hand, a dose dependent decrease in phagocytic activity and increase in lysozyme activity were observed. PS-NH2 NPs also stimulated increase in extracellular ROS (reactive oxygen species) and NO (nitric oxide) production, with maximal effects at lower concentrations. Moreover, at the highest concentration tested, PS-NH2 NPs induced apoptotic process, as evaluated by Flow cytometry (Annexin V binding and mitochondrial parameters). The results demonstrate that in marine invertebrates the immune function can represent a significant target for PS-NPs. Moreover, in Mytilus hemocytes, PS-NH2 NPs can act through mechanisms similar to those observed in mammalian cells. Further research is necessary on specific mechanisms of toxicity and cellular uptake of nanoplastics in order to assess their impact on marine biota.

2015 - Nano-sized polystyrene affects feeding, behavior and physiology of brine shrimp Artemia franciscana larvae [Articolo su rivista]
Bergami, Elisa; Bocci, Elena; Vannuccini, Maria Luisa; Monopoli, Marco; Salvati, Anna; Dawson, Kenneth A.; Corsi, Ilaria

Nano-sized polymers as polystyrene (PS) constitute one of the main challenges for marine ecosystems, since they can distribute along the whole water column affecting planktonic species and consequently disrupting the energy flow of marine ecosystems. Nowadays very little knowledge is available on the impact of nano-sized plastics on marine organisms. Therefore, the present study aims to evaluate the effects of 40 nm anionic carboxylated (PS-COOH) and 50 nm cationic amino (PS-NH2) polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) on brine shrimp Anemia franciscana larvae. No signs of mortality were observed at 48 h of exposure for both PS NPs at naplius stage but several sub-lethal effects were evident. PS-COOH (5-100 mu g/ml) resulted massively sequestered inside the gut lumen of larvae (48 h) probably limiting food intake. Some of them were lately excreted as fecal pellets but not a full release was observed. Likewise, PS-NH2 (5-100 mu g/ml) accumulated in larvae (48 h) but also adsorbed at the surface of sensorial antennules and appendages probably hampering larvae motility. In addition, larvae exposed to PS-NH2 undergo multiple molting events during 48 h of exposure compared to controls. The activation of a defense mechanism based on a physiological process able to release toxic cationic NPs (PS-NH2) from the body can be hypothesized. The general observed accumulation of PS NPs within the gut during the 48 h of exposure indicates a continuous bioavailability of nano-sized PS for planktonic species as well as a potential transfer along the trophic web. Therefore, nano-sized PS might be able to impair food uptake (feeding), behavior (motility) and physiology (multiple molting) of brine shrimp larvae with consequences not only at organism and population level but on the overall ecosystem based on the key role of zooplankton on marine food webs. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

2014 - Accumulation and embryotoxicity of polystyrene nanoparticles at early stage of development of sea urchin embryos Paracentrotus lividus [Articolo su rivista]
Della Torre, C.; Bergami, E.; Salvati, A.; Faleri, C.; Cirino, P.; Dawson, K. A.; Corsi, I.

Nanoplastic debris, resulted from runoff and weathering breakdown of macro- and microplastics, represents an emerging concern for marine ecosystems. The aim of the present study was to investigate disposition and toxicity of polystyrene nanoparticles (NPs) in early development of sea urchin embryos (Paracentrotus lividus). NPs with two different surface charges where chosen, carboxylated (PS-COOH) and amine (PS-NH2) polystyrene, the latter being a less common variant, known to induce cell death in several in vitro cell systems. NPs stability in natural seawater (NSW) was measured while disposition and embryotoxicity were monitored within 48 h of postfertilization (hpf). Modulation of genes involved in cellular stress response (cas8, 14-3-3ε, p-38 MAPK, Abcb1, Abcc5) was investigated. PS-COOH forms microaggregates (PDI > 0.4) in NSW, whereas PS-NH2 results are better dispersed (89 ± 2 nm) initially, though they also aggregated partially with time. Their respectively anionic and cationic nature was confirmed by ζ-potential measurements. No embryotoxicity was observed for PS-COOH up to 50 μg mL-1 whereas PS-NH2 caused severe developmental defects (EC50 3.85 μg mL-1 24 hpf and EC50 2.61 μg mL-1 48 hpf). PS-COOH accumulated inside embryo's digestive tract while PS-NH2 were more dispersed. Abcb1 gene resulted up-regulated at 48 hpf by PS-COOH whereas PS-NH2 induced cas8 gene at 24 hpf, suggesting an apoptotic pathway. In line with the results obtained with the same PS NPs in several human cell lines, also in sea urchin embryos, differences in surface charges and aggregation in seawater strongly affect their embryotoxicity. © 2014 American Chemical Society.