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  1. Abstract

    Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) are one of the most used engineered nanomaterials. Despite progress in assessing their environmental implications, knowledge gaps exist concerning the metabolic perturbations induced by AgNPs on phytoplankton, essential organisms in global biogeochemical cycles and food-web dynamics. We combine targeted metabolomics, biouptake and physiological response studies to elucidate metabolic perturbations in algaPoterioochromonas malhamensisinduced by AgNPs and dissolved Ag. We show time-dependent perturbation of the metabolism of amino acids, nucleotides, fatty acids, tricarboxylic acids, photosynthesis and photorespiration by both Ag-treatments. The results suggest that dissolved Ag ions released by AgNPs are the major toxicity driver; however, AgNPs internalized in food vacuoles contributed to the perturbation of amino acid metabolism, TCA cycle and oxidative stress. The metabolic perturbations corroborate the observed physiological responses. We highlight the potential of metabolomics as a tool for understanding the molecular basis for these metabolic and physiological changes, and for early detection of stress.

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  2. Surfactants are commonly used in foliar applications to enhance interactions of active ingredients with plant leaves. We employed metabolomics to understand the effects of TritonTM X-100 surfactant (SA) and nanomaterials (NMs) on wheat (Triticum aestivum) at the molecular level. Leaves of three-week-old wheat seedlings were exposed to deionized water (DI), surfactant solution (SA), NMs-surfactant suspensions (Cu(OH)2 NMs and MoO3 NMs), and ionic-surfactant solutions (Cu IONs and Mo IONs). Wheat leaves and roots were evaluated via physiological, nutrient distribution, and targeted metabolomics analyses. SA had no impact on plant physiological parameters, however, 30+ dysregulated metabolites and 15+ perturbed metabolomic pathways were identified in wheat leaves and roots. Cu(OH)2 NMs resulted in an accumulation of 649.8 μg/g Cu in leaves; even with minimal Cu translocation, levels of 27 metabolites were significantly changed in roots. Due to the low dissolution of Cu(OH)2 NMs in SA, the low concentration of Cu IONs induced minimal plant response. In contrast, given the substantial dissolution of MoO3 NMs (35.8%), the corresponding high levels of Mo IONs resulted in significant metabolite reprogramming (30+ metabolites dysregulated). Aspartic acid, proline, chlorogenic acid, adenosine, ascorbic acid, phenylalanine, and lysine were significantly upregulated for MoO3 NMs, yet downregulated under Mo IONs condition. Surprisingly, Cu(OH)2 NMs stimulated wheat plant tissues more than MoO3 NMs. The glyoxylate/dicarboxylate metabolism (in leaves) and valine/leucine/isoleucine biosynthesis (in roots) uniquely responded to Cu(OH)2 NMs. Findings from this study provide novel insights on the use of surfactants to enhance the foliar application of nanoagrochemicals. 
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  3. Metabolomics characterizes low-molecular-weight molecules involved in different biochemical reactions and provides an integrated assessment of the physiological state of an organism. By using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry targeted metabolomics, we examined the response of green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to sublethal concentrations of inorganic mercury (IHg) and monomethylmercury (MeHg). We quantified the changes in the levels of 93 metabolites preselected based on the disturbed metabolic pathways obtained in a previous transcriptomics study. Metabolites are downstream products of the gene transcription; hence, metabolite quantification provided information about the biochemical status of the algal cells exposed to Hg compounds. The results showed that the alga adjusts its metabolism during 2 h exposure to 5 × 10–9 and 5 × 10–8 mol L–1 IHg and MeHg by increasing the level of various metabolites involved in amino acid and nucleotide metabolism, photorespiration, and tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, as well as the metabolism of fatty acids, carbohydrates, and antioxidants. Most of the metabolic perturbations in the alga were common for IHg and MeHg treatments. However, the exposure to IHg resulted in more pronounced perturbations in the fatty acid and TCA metabolism as compared with the exposure to MeHg. The observed metabolic perturbations were generally consistent with our previously published transcriptomics results for C. reinhardtii exposed to the comparable level of IHg and MeHg. The results highlight the potential of metabolomics for toxicity evaluation, especially to detect effects at an early stage of exposure prior to their physiological appearance. 
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