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BioMed Research International
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 9528180, 8 pages
Research Article

Toxicity of Nickel Oxide Nanoparticles on a Freshwater Green Algal Strain of Chlorella vulgaris

Département de Chimie, Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3P8

Correspondence should be addressed to David Dewez

Received 8 December 2016; Accepted 2 March 2017; Published 4 April 2017

Academic Editor: Jinsong Ren

Copyright © 2017 Abdallah Oukarroum et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A freshwater microalga strain of Chlorella vulgaris was used to investigate toxic effects induced by nickel oxide nanoparticles (NiO-NPs) in suspension. Algal cells were exposed during 96 h to 0–100 mg L−1 of NiO-NPs and analyzed by flow cytometry. Physicochemical characterization of nanoparticles in tested media showed a soluble fraction (free Ni2+) of only 6.42% for 100 mg L−1 of NiO-NPs, indicating the low solubility capacity of these NPs. Toxicity analysis showed cellular alterations which were related to NiO-NPs concentration, such as inhibition in cell division (relative cell size and granularity), deterioration of the photosynthetic apparatus (chlorophyll synthesis and photochemical reactions of photosynthesis), and oxidative stress (ROS production). The change in cellular viability demonstrated to be a very sensitive biomarker of NiO-NPs toxicity with EC50 of 13.7 mg L−1. Analysis by TEM and X-ray confirmed that NiO-NPs were able to cross biological membranes and to accumulate inside algal cells. Therefore, this study provides a characterization of both physicochemical and toxicological properties of NiO-NPs suspensions in tested media. The use of the freshwater strain of C. vulgaris demonstrated to be a sensitive bioindicator of NiO-NPs toxicity on the viability of green algae.