With increasing release of nanoparticles (NPs) into the environment, soil organisms likely suffer from high dose and long duration of NPs contamination, while the effect of NPs across multiple generations in soil is rarely studied. Herein, we investigated how multigenerational exposure to different crystal forms (anatase, rutile, and their mixture) of TiO NPs (nTiO) affected the survival, behavior, physiological and biochemical traits, and lifespan of nematodes (C. elegans) in a paddy soil. The soil property changed very slightly after being spiked with nTiO, and the toxicities of three nTiO forms were largely comparable. The nTiO exposure adversely influenced the survival and locomotion of nematodes, and increased intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. Interestingly, the toxic effect gradually attenuated and the lifespan of survived nematodes increased from the P0 to F3 generation, which was ascribed to the survivor selection and stimulatory effect. The lethal effect and the increased oxidative stress may continuously screen out offspring possessing stronger anti-stress capabilities. Moreover, key genes (daf-2, age-1, and skn-1) in the insulin/IGF-like signaling (IIS) pathway actively responded to the nTiO exposure, which further optimized the selective expression of downstream genes, increased the antioxidant enzyme activities and antioxidant contents, and thereby increased the stress resistance and longevity of survived nematodes across successive generations. Our findings highlight the crucial role of bio-responses in the progressively decreased toxicity of nTiO, and add new knowledge on the long-term impact of soil nTiO contamination.
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