Nanoparticles-treated plants increase growth and antioxidant levels

two tomatoes on vine
WashU researchers used new aerosolization methods in their study holding promise for improved use of resources and global food security. (Photo: Ajith Kumar)

Can nanoparticles boost the growth and nutrient offerings of tomato plants and not add to the strain on natural resources as the world meets increasing global food demand?

Likely yes, according to the findings of a new study conducted by researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and published in the journal Metallomics.

In the study, nanoparticles-treated plants through the researchers’ novel aerosolization methods produced almost 82 percent more fruit by weight than untreated ones. Tomatoes from the treated group had increased lycopene, an antioxidant associated with reduced risks of cancer, heart condition, and age-related eye conditions, of 80 to 113 percent.

“When a plant grows, it signals the soil that it needs nutrients,” Biswas says. “The nutrient it needs is not in a form that the plant can take right away, so it secretes enzymes, which react with the soil and trigger bacterial microbes to turn the nutrients into a form that the plant can use. We’re trying to aid this pathway by adding nanoparticles.”

Using a very fine spray, the researchers deposited the nanoparticles directly on the plant leaves. The aerosol technique led to a much better plant nutrient uptake compared to applying nanoparticles to soil.

The team is now developing a new nanonutrient formulation that comprises all the 17 elements plants require.

Read the full story in TECH TIMES: Nanoparticles Increase Growth and Antioxidant Levels of Tomato Plants