Nanofungicides offer new plant disease control options

Nanofungicides offer new plant disease control options

Researchers with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station are exploring how nanotechnology can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of agrochemicals. Nanopesticides and nanofertilizers can be applied at much lower rates than traditional products, providing an important environmental benefit.

These scientists are working on the development of sulfur-based nanomaterials that can act as micronutrients and enhance tolerance to fungal disease. In their research, they added two different types of sulfur nanoparticles to soil planted with tomato and infested with Fusarium wilt fungus. Fusarium wilt disease is a significant threat to many important crop species and causes billions in annual losses.

In their greenhouse experiment, Fusarium wilt reduced plant biomass by up to 87%, but both types of nanoparticles reduced disease by more than 50%. In the field study, one type of sulfur nanoparticle increased tomato marketable yield of healthy plants more than threefold when compared to controls. In infested treatments, the same treatment significantly reduced disease severity compared to the other treatments. Additionally, foliar and soil treatments increased yield by more than 100% over diseased controls and significantly increased calcium, copper, iron and magnesium levels in fruit.

This research will act as a foundation to develop new sustainable and effective disease management, while improving agrichemical delivery methods.

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