Carbon nanotubes have shown promise as regulators of seed germination and plant growth. Here, we demonstrate that multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) have the ability to enhance the growth of tobacco cell culture (55–64% increase over control) in a wide range of concentrations (5–500 μg/mL). Activated carbon (AC) stimulated cell growth (16% increase) only at low concentrations (5 μg/mL) while dramatically inhibited the cellular growth at higher concentrations (100–500 μg/mL). We found a correlation between the activation of cells growth exposed to MWCNTs and the upregulation of genes involved in cell division/cell wall formation and water transport. The expression of the tobacco aquaporin (NtPIP1) gene, as well as production of the NtPIP1 protein, significantly increased in cells exposed to MWCNTs compared to control cells or those exposed to AC. The expression of marker genes for cell division (CycB) and cell wall extension (NtLRX1) was also up-regulated in cells exposed to MWCNTs compared to control cells or those exposed to activated carbon only.
carbon nanotubes; cell division; gene expression; aquaporin protein; Raman spectroscopy