Nano and bulk-forms of zinc oxide (ZnO) are used extensively in industry and consequently may accumulate in the environment. However, there is little information available on the comparative effects of these forms during the critical early stages of plant life. Furthermore, the role of chelating agents, which affect the bioavailability of metals, in ameliorating plant stress due to exposure to nano and bulk-forms of ZnO is not well characterised. In this study, the effects of different concentrations (0.5, 2.5, 5, 10, 50 and 100 ppm) of nano ZnO (22 nm) and bulk ZnO (natural form, 1000 nm) with and without organic (citrate) and inorganic (EDTA) chelators on germination and seedling growth, and oxidative stress markers of Nicotiana tabacum L. were compared. Chelators (without ZnO) enhanced root growth, whilst ZnO negatively affected seedling growth. ZnO toxicity was often mitigated by adding chelators, especially citrate, although at the highest levels (50 and 100?ppm) of ZnO, toxicity was more pronounced when chelated with EDTA, but was decreased with citrate. Collectively, our findings provide important information regarding the different morpho-physiological and biochemical effects of bulk and nano ZnO and organic and inorganic chelators (citrate and EDTA), which are all prevalent in the environment.
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