Using Nanomaterials on Plants
Dependence of the people in Pakistan is mostly on the agricultural produce to earn their livelihood. Being an agricultural country the agriculture system in Pakistan has always been a question mark. Reduced yields due to pest infestation, diseases, drought, environmental stress, humidity, water lodging, improper land preparation, use of excessive chemicals lead this country to the lower ranks. For getting better yields and ensuring necessary measurements for crop protection and management efforts are being made to enhance this field by using nanotechnology. Nanotechnology, the new and most innovative field of science enabled various ways through which mankind can be benefitted. Nanotechnology is the science of studying and manipulating object of size in nano-meters. Nanotechnology has enabled man to manipulate crops at the atomic level in order to ensure the good agricultural outcome.
The use of nanotechnology is being practiced in agriculture in the following ways:
- Biosensors: These are the small chip-based sensory devices which could be able to detect the level of moisture, temperature and even the salinity and acidity of the soil. With the soil it could also be able to detect the requirements of plants. These biosensors could be of multipurpose provided with detection, activation of counter-active agents, overcoming the problem in one part of the land and then moving to the next one. In plants, these biosensors could be able to detect if the plants require nutrients, water, hormones or other management practices. After sensing the requirements, these biosensors could allow the release of all required materials from the nano-sized packs or commonly the magic-bullets. These small devices with multi-purpose would help farmers in providing them profitable returns.
- Nanobarcodes: These barcodes and processing units would be able to take an account of the quality of agricultural production. These barcodes being used in developed countries would be able to detect the pathogens in the field that may become the cause of yield reduction due to any disease to plants. With detection of pathogens in the field, necessary steps could be taken to manage the crop using disease management practices without using any excessive chemicals.
- Delivery systems/Magic Bullets: After detection of the plant requirement of any fertilizers, pesticide or herbicide, the biosensors would allow the release of nano-sized bullets or magic bullets containing the required material within, these magic bullets would enter the cells of plants and provide the nutrients or hormones as per plants requirements. Genome modification in plants is the technique of transformation of plants using foreign DNA pieces commonly through gene-gun. Gold nanoparticles are commonly used in this technique of plant transformation but the efficacy of gene transfer is low. With magic bullets containing DNA material of desired traits would be able to transfer foreign DNA in the plant genome in order to give plants some new traits. Hormonal imbalance in plants is also the major cause of the reduced yields. Plant’s requirement of any deficient hormone would also be fulfilled using these magic bullets as they would have the ability to transfer any kind material incorporated in them to the desired plant parts with higher efficiency.
Saad Ullah, Umer Nadeem, Ali Raza, Ahtasham-ul-Hassan, Jazib Ali.
Students of Biotechnology,
Department of Agricultural Biochemistry and Biotechnology,
University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.