Plant Nanobiotechnology for Sustainable Agriculture

Incomplete understanding of how a nanomaterial’s properties control its activity, fate, and bioavailability in plants and soils hinders development of novel nano-enabled applications, e.g. CeO2 for managing stress or CuO/ZnO NPs for supplementing plant nutritoin. My current research aims to develop a more fundamental understanding of how the properties of nanomaterials can be engineered to promote uptake and phloem loading in foliar applications, and how nanomaterial, soil, and plant properties together affects nanomaterial transformation, fate, and bioavailbility/toxicity in plants. Using synchrotron X-ray analysis, the spatial distribution and speciation of metal and metal oxide NPs in live plants is used to determine how the nanomaterial properties influence their foliar and root uptake, and their translocation to other parts of the plant. Overall, the body of evidence to date indicates great potential for manipulating nanomaterial properties for beneficial applications in agriculture and for increasing agrochemical utilization efficiency and sustainability of food production.

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