Interactive Effects of UV Radiation and Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles on Marine Planktonic Food Webs

EPA Grant Number: FP917806
Title: Interactive Effects of UV Radiation and Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles on Marine Planktonic Food Webs
Investigators: Haynes, Vena N
Institution: University of Connecticut
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2018
Project Amount: $132,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships


Titanium dioxide nanoparticles are used in a variety of consumer products including paints, sunscreens, and skin-care products, and are released into the environment directly (e.g., product usage) and indirectly (e.g., wastewater). There are a few studies that have examined the phototoxic effects of titanium dioxide on aquatic organisms, however, how these particles affect zooplanktonic animals under natural light common in most near-shore waters is largely unknown. The proposed research will focus on this knowledge gap by examining the interactive effects of UV radiation and titanium dioxide nanoparticles on key organisms that form the base of the marine planktonic food web, and are critical to healthy fisheries.


By altering both titanium dioxide nanoparticle type (P25, UV-Titan) and concentration (0.1, 0.5 mg/L), the impact on 1a) growth and 1b) mortality of hetero/mixotrophic ciliates; 2a) ingestion rate (IR) and 2b) egg production rate (EPR) of copepods; and 3) egg hatching frequency (HF) of copepods will be quantified under dark and environmentally-relevant light conditions. Importantly, by exposing organisms to both light and dark conditions, the nanoparticle effects due to photoreactivity versus nanoscale-size reactivity can be disentangled.

Expected Results:

Previous studies using titanium dioxide nanoparticles without light show little to no toxic effects. With the addition of light, it is anticipated that there will be interactive and negative effects on the organisms tested. Results will provide critical data on the impact of nanoparticles on organisms in the near-shore environment and provide insight into how this may affect marine planktonic trophic cascades. This work will also inform future studies on organisms that rely on zooplankton for food (e.g., fish larvae and filter-feeders).

Supplemental Keywords:

Nanoparticles, titanium dioxide, UV radiation, marine food web, ciliates, copepods, ecotoxicity

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2016
  • 2017
  • Final