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Discharged carbon nanotubes (CNTs) likely interact with co-existing organic contaminants (OCs) and pose joint toxicity to environmental microbes. Herein, hydrophobic pentachlorophenol (PCP) and hydrophilic ciprofloxacin (CIP) were used as representative OCs and their joint toxicities with CNTs to Bacillus subtilis were systematically investigated at cellular, biochemical, and omics levels. The 3-h bacterial growth half inhibitory concentrations of CNTs, PCP, and CIP were 12.5 ± 2.6, 3.5 ± 0.5, and 0.46 ± 0.03 mg/L, respectively, and they all could damage cell membrane, increase intracellular oxidative stress, and alter bacterial metabolomics and transcriptomics; while CNTs-PCP and CNTs-CIP binary exposures exhibited distinct additive and synergistic toxicities, respectively. CNTs increased bacterial bioaccumulation of PCP and CIP via destabilizing and damaging cell membrane. PCP reduced the bioaccumulation of CNTs, while CIP had no significant effect; this difference could be owing to the different effects of the two OCs on cell-surface hydrophobicity and CNTs electronegativity. The additive toxicity outcome upon CNTs-PCP co-exposure could be a result of the balance between the increased toxicity from increased PCP bioaccumulation and the decreased toxicity from decreased CNTs bioaccumulation. The increased bioaccumulation of CIP contributed to the synergistic toxicity upon CNTs-CIP co-exposure, as confirmed by the increased inhibition of topoisomerase Ⅳ activity and interference in gene expressions regulating ABC transporters and lysine biosynthesis. The findings provide novel insights into environmental risks of CNTs. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Rui Deng, Kun Yang, Daohui Lin. Pentachlorophenol and ciprofloxacin present dissimilar joint toxicities with carbon nanotubes to Bacillus subtilis. Environmental pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987). 2021 Feb 01;270:116071

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PMID: 33218776

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