Effects of graphene oxides and silver-graphene oxides on aquatic microbial activity

Kwanyoung Ko, Min Ji Kim, Ji Yeon Lee, Woong Kim, Haegeun Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Graphene oxide (GO) and silver-graphene oxide (Ag-GO) are used in various fields, such as biotechnology and environmental engineering, due to their unique material properties, including hydrophilicity, high surface area, mechanical strength, and antibacterial activity. With the increase in the usage of such nanomaterials, they are likely to enter the aquatic environment during the manufacturing process, product use, and disposal. However, the effects of GO and Ag-GO on aquatic microbial activities are not well understood. In this study, we aimed to determine the effects of GO and Ag-GO on the aquatic microbial communities inhabiting a river and a lake located in Seoul, South Korea. Unfiltered natural surface water samples were exposed to GO and Ag-GO at a final concentration of 10 to 100 mg L−1 for 48 h. The activity of leucine aminopeptidase was significantly lowered within 1 h of GO and Ag-GO treatments and nitrification rate was significantly lowered. An increase in intracellular lactate dehydrogenase levels of up to 5% was observed in natural waters under GO and Ag-GO treatments compared to the control (0%), indicating cell membrane damage. In addition, generation of intracellular reactive oxygen species increased up to 184% under 100 mg GO L−1 and 102% under 100 mg Ag-GO L−1 treatment compared to the control (0%). Our results indicate that the activities of microorganisms inhabiting natural surface waters may have been inhibited by oxidative stress and cell membrane damage induced by GO and Ag-GO. We believe that our results may contribute to the development of regulatory guidelines on the release of emerging engineered nanomaterials to the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1087-1095
Number of pages9
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb 15

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper was supported by Konkuk University in 2015.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.


  • Ag-GO
  • Enzyme activity
  • Exposure test
  • GO
  • Natural surface water
  • Nitrification rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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