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Journal of Botany
Volume 2012, Article ID 751686, 8 pages
Review Article

Environmental Nanoparticles Interactions with Plants: Morphological, Physiological, and Genotoxic Aspects

CESAM and Department of Biology, University of Aveiro, Campus Universitário de Santiago, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal

Received 15 February 2012; Revised 9 April 2012; Accepted 10 April 2012

Academic Editor: Helena Oliveira

Copyright © 2012 C. Remédios 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.


Nanoparticles (NPs) are characterized by their small size (less than 100 nm) and large surface area, which confer specific physicochemical properties as strength, electrical, and optical features. NPs can be derived from natural or anthropic sources, such as engineered or unwanted/incidental NPs. The composition, dimension, and morphology of engineered NPs enable their use in a variety of areas, such as electronic, biomedical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, energy, environmental, catalysis, and materials science. As nanotechnology is an innovative and scientific growth area with an exponential production, more information is needed concerning the impacts of these nanomaterials (NMs) in the environment and, particularly, in animals/humans health and in plants performance. So, research on NPs as emerging contaminants is therefore a new field in environmental health. This minireview describes, briefly, the NPs characterization and their occurrence in the environment stating air, water, and soil. Finally, particular emphasis is given to the interaction of NPs with plants at different levels: morphology, physiology, and genotoxicity. By analyzing this compiled information, it is evident that research on NPs phytotoxicity is in the beginning, and more comprehensive studies are needed not only on NPs cytotoxicity and genotoxicity but also on the best and the most reliable methods of assessing NPs toxicity.