Nanoparticles as sterilizing agents to replace antibiotics in plant production


Laboratory tests. Credit: Voronezh State University of Forestry and Technology named after GF Morozov

A simple and effective preparation for the protection of seedlings derived in vitro from phytopathogens was developed by a scientific team of NUST MISIS in collaboration with colleagues from Voronezh and Tambov. Small doses of copper oxide nanoparticles in its composition work as a plant immunostimulator. As a result, scientists plan to obtain a preparation that will increase the amount of harvested planting material. The results of the work have been published in the Nanomaterials international scientific journal.

Modern methods of mass phytoproduction include obtaining planting material from woody plants by in vitro clonal micropropagation. This method of vegetative propagation makes it possible to obtain new plants, genetically identical to the original specimen, in a laboratory container or other controlled experimental environment rather than within a living organism or natural environment.

There are a few challenges with the new technology: as nutrient media for phytoclones provide ideal conditions for microbial growth, new plants must be created and maintained in complete sterility. Antibiotics are increasingly used to reduce the risk of contamination of plants propagated in vitro.

However, in addition to the bactericidal effect, antibiotics can also have a toxic effect on plant tissues, inhibit their growth and development. In addition, microorganisms can adapt to biocidal drugs through mutations, which leads to resistance of plant pathogens. According to Russian scientists, the use of nanoparticles as sterilizing agents could be a safe alternative to antibiotics.

The research team of scientists from NUST MISIS, Voronezh State University of Forestry and Technology named after GF Morozov and Tambov State University named after GR Derzhavin aimed to to assess the effects of copper oxide nanoparticles on the growth of spore-forming mold colonies, as well as on the production of stress resistance genes in birch clones in vitro when infected with plant pathogens.

“As expected, copper oxide nanoparticles had a pronounced antifungal effect on plant pathogens in plant culture, which is consistent with the results of a number of previous studies. As possible mechanisms for this phenomenon, we assume both diffusion of copper ions, which is an antimicrobial agent, and specific nanotoxic effects, such as induction of oxidative stress or damage to the cell membrane,” said Olga Zakharova, an expert from the Department functional nanosystems and high temperature materials from NUST MISIS.

Interestingly, according to the developers, maximum plant sterility was observed at the lowest concentration of nanoparticles studied. Scientists suggest that the effect is not achieved by the direct destruction of plant pathogenic microorganisms by nanoparticles, but indirectly by stimulating the immunity of seedlings.

“Nanoparticles at low concentrations can cause moderate stress in plants, one of the reactions of which is a change in their biochemical status. Compounds such as peroxidases and polyphenols, which are part of the non-specific protection system of plants against plant pathogenic microorganisms, At the same time, an increase in the concentration of nanoparticles increases the stress induced by the “nano”, and the overall efficiency of plant adaptation to stress begins to decrease, which ultimately results in a reduced number of viable microclones at the maximum concentration of nanoparticles,” added Olga Zakharova.

According to the researchers, the data obtained supports the prospect of using copper oxide nanoparticles to optimize in vitro plant cultivation technology. The next step of the project is to precisely identify the mechanisms by which nanoparticles affect plants and phytopathogens.

Reducing the use of pesticides thanks to nanoparticles

More information:
Tatiana A. Grodetskaya et al, Influence of copper oxide nanoparticles on gene expression of birch clones in vitro under stress caused by plant pathogens, Nanomaterials (2022). DOI: 10.3390/nano12050864

Provided by National University of Science and Technology MISIS

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