Nano technology for future plant protection

Last changed: 08 April 2022

Mineral nanoparticles arise through weathering of minerals at the seabed and life on earth has evolved in the constant presence of these particles. In our research, we use nature's own nanomaterials and investigate the role of mineral nanoparticles in the plant interaction chain with the aim of increasing the stress tolerance of arable crops.

With the world's growing population and the ongoing climate change, we constantly need to find new solutions for sustainable food production. How can we increase the farming areas by cultivating in areas with less attractive climate and weather conditions? How can we reduce the consequences of climate change such as temperature fluctuations, floods or droughts?

Enhanced stress tolerance with beneficial microorganisms

In our research, we work to increase stress tolerance in plants, and help them protect themselves against changes in weather and the environment. Plants interact with beneficial microorganisms in nature to increase their stress resistance. However, in some cases the plants need help to attract such microorganisms in order to cooperate with them quickly and efficiently.

When a river is flooded, the soil is supplied with large amounts of mineral nanoparticles. This is known to result in increased yields and improved stress tolerance in plants. With the help of modern analysis techniques, we examine the underlying chemical mechanisms. The aim of our research is to be able to influence the collaboration between plants and microorganisms in order to strengthen the stress tolerance of the plants.

Spara

By finding out what role mineral nanoparticles play in the plant interaction chain, we can work with plant protection and increase the stress tolerance of agricultural crops.
Mineral nanoparticles can be used to create a shell on beneficial microorganisms. A kind of artificial spores are then formed. The packaged microorganisms can then be delivered to the right place to fight pests, for example, on farm crops.
By helping plants form biofilm on the roots using microorganisms, the plant gets an increased protection against fungal infections.

Results from the project:

  • Hybrid materials offer broad application perspectives thanks to their ability to combine organic / biological and inorganic functions
  • Typical sand minerals offer biocompatible nanoparticles, for application in, among other things, plant protection
  • Mineral nanoparticles play an active role in plant interactions, probably by connecting to phosphate functions in cell membranes
  • Mineral nanoparticles can act as nanozymes and alleviate stress response in plant

Facts:

he projects have been funded by Vinnova (Nano Formulations for Innovative Grazing of Seats) and Formas (Nanotechnology for innovative protection against insect pests).

At SLU Professor Johan Meijer, Associate Professor Gulaim Seisenbaeva, Dr Martin Palmqvist, Dr Sarosh Bejai and Dr Fredrik Heyman have been active in the project. At the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), Dr Birgit Mitter and Dr Claudia Preininger have participated. The companies BioAgri AB and Saatbau Linz AG has been involved in the projects.