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null (Ed.)Lignin is the second most abundant biopolymer on Earth after cellulose. Since lignin breaks down in the environment naturally, lignin nanoparticles may serve as biodegradable carriers of biocidal actives with minimal environmental footprint compared to conventional antimicrobial formulations. Here, a lignin nanoparticle (LNP) coated with chitosan was engineered. Previous studies show both lignin and chitosan to exhibit antimicrobial properties. Another study showed that adding a chitosan coating can improve the adsorption of LNPs to biological samples by electrostatic adherence to oppositely charged surfaces. Our objective was to determine if these engineered particles would elicit toxicological responses, utilizing embryonic zebrafish toxicity assays. Zebrafish were exposed to nanoparticles with an intact chorionic membrane and with the chorion enzymatically removed to allow for direct contact of particles with the developing embryo. Both mortality and sublethal endpoints were analyzed. Mortality rates were significantly greater for chitosan-coated LNPs (Ch-LNPs) compared to plain LNPs and control groups. Significant sublethal endpoints were observed in groups exposed to Ch-LNPs with chorionic membranes intact. Our study indicated that engineered Ch-LNP formulations at high concentrations were more toxic than plain LNPs. Further study is warranted to fully understand the mechanisms of Ch-LNP toxicity.more » « less
A highly controllable and scalable process for fabrication of large amounts of concentrated lignin nanoparticles (LNPs) is reported. These lignin core nanoparticles are formed through flash nanoprecipitation, however, scaling up of the fabrication process requires fundamental understanding of their operational formation mechanism and surface properties. It is shown how a semicontinuous synthesis system with a recirculation loop makes it possible to produce flash precipitated lignin nanoparticles in large amounts for practical applications. The roles of the process parameters, including flow rates and lignin concentration, are investigated and analyzed. The results indicate that the LNPs are formed by a process of continuous burst nucleation at the point of mixing without diffusive growth, which yields nanoparticles of highly uniform size following a modified LaMer nucleation and growth mechanism. This mechanism makes possible facile process control and scale‐up. Effective control of the resulting nanoparticle size is achieved through the initial concentration of lignin in the injected solution. The impressive capability to produce suspensions of any predesigned multimodal distribution is demonstrated. The resulting nanofabrication technique can produce large volumes of concentrated LNP suspensions of high stability and tightly controlled size distributions for biological or agricultural applications.