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Crop Biotech Update

Therapeutic Nanoparticles Could Help Save Sickly Crops

May 23, 2018

Synthetic nanoparticles used in fighting cancer were successfully used in healing malnourished plants. The results were published in Scientific Reports.

The nanoparticles called liposomes are spherical pouches used to deliver drugs to a particular part of the human body. These tiny delivery packages were filled by the scientists from Israel Institute of Technology with fertilizing nutrients then applied in plants. This technique showed to be more effective than spraying the nutrients onto the sickly plants.

The researchers initially exposed sickly tomato plants to either liposomes packed with a rare earth metal call europium, or free-floating europium molecules. Since europium is not naturally occurring in plants or soil, it's easy to trace how much of this elements plants soaked up after treatment. After three days of exposure, plants treated with liposomes had absorbed up to 33 percent of the nanopaticles, while those exposed to free-floating europium only absorbed less than 0.1 percent of the molecules. Then they treated the iron- and magnesium-deficient tomato plants with iron and/or magnesium spray, while the other plants with a solution containing liposomes packed with iron and magnesium. Two weeks after, the plants sprayed with free-floating nutrients were still yellowish and curled, while those that were sprayed with liposomes showed healthy and green leaves.

Read more from Science News and Scientific Reports.