Acute effects of Fe2O3, TiO2, ZnO and CuO nanomaterials on Xenopus laevis

Shawna Nations, Mike Wages, Jaclyn E. Cañas, Jonathan Maul, Chris Theodorakis, George P. Cobb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Metal oxide nanomaterials have exhibited toxicity to a variety of aquatic organisms, especially microbes and invertebrates. To date, few studies have evaluated the toxicity of metal oxide nanomaterials on aquatic vertebrates. Therefore, this study examined effects of ZnO, TiO2, Fe2O3, and CuO nanomaterials (20-100nm) on amphibians utilizing the Frog Embryo Teratogenesis Assay Xenopus (FETAX) protocol, a 96h exposure with daily solution exchanges. Nanomaterials were dispersed in reconstituted moderately hard test medium. These exposures did not increase mortality in static renewal exposures containing up to 1000mgL-1 for TiO2, Fe2O3, CuO, and ZnO, but did induce developmental abnormalities. Gastrointestinal, spinal, and other abnormalities were observed in CuO and ZnO nanomaterial exposures at concentrations as low as 3.16mgL-1 (ZnO). An EC50 of 10.3mgL-1 ZnO was observed for total malformations. The minimum concentration to inhibit growth of tadpoles exposed to CuO or ZnO nanomaterials was 10mgL-1. The results indicate that select nanomaterials can negatively affect amphibians during development. Evaluation of nanomaterial exposure on vertebrate organisms are imperative to responsible production and introduction of nanomaterials in everyday products to ensure human and environmental safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1053-1061
Number of pages9
Issue number8
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Development
  • Metal oxides
  • Nanomaterials


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