Nanoparticle-based technology enables growers to combat bacterial spot and other copper-resistant plant diseases with minimal environmental impact
UCF researchers have developed a novel copper (Cu)-based nanoparticle technology to treat and protect plants against a broad range of disease-causing bacteria and fungi. Using industry-accepted ingredients, the new formula is based on nano-engineered particles that are designed to be more effective against copper-resistant bacterial strains such as Xanthomonas perforans. The invention contains significantly lower copper material concentrations than conventional copper bactericides. It is non-phytotoxic, water-soluble and film forming to kill and inhibit the growth of bacteria on crops.
More than 300,000 diseases afflict plants worldwide, resulting in billions of dollars of annual crop losses. For example, bacterial spot is a common yet highly destructive disease in tomatoes, peppers, peaches and apricots. For tomatoes alone, the disease has caused yield losses of up to 50 percent in many regions. To control tomato bacterial spot and other plant diseases, growers have used Cu-based bactericides for decades. However, overuse has caused certain strains of bacteria to become Cu-resistant and toxic levels of Cu to contaminate the soil.
A key feature of the technology is that the nanoparticles are truly “locally systemic,” in that they move into treated parts of a plant and are redistributed only within the treated portion. Thus, when sprayed on a plant, the particles move relatively short distances, fighting microbes in and around the application site (leaf surface and sub-surface).
The invention encompasses a unique nanotechnology particle design and method of delivering disease-fighting materials to infected plant tissues. The locally systemic particle (LSP) design consists of metal and non-metal layers formed around a silica core and shell. The first layer is a leachant-permeable base material and multi-valent metal (such as Cu). The second (outside) layer consists of an immobilized Quat material, such as quaternary ammonium. The nanoparticles are small enough to pass through leaf pores known as stomata, and then move locally inside plant tissues to attack bacteria. In addition, when the stomata of plants take up LSP materials, they serve as a Cu reservoir, extending retention in the plant tissue and enhancing the bioavailability of Cu material. This serves to reduce the need for repeated applications and limits the Cu exposure to humans as well as the plants and soil.
- Scalable, simple one-pot synthesis method
- Engineered ultra-small particle design reduces copper content without sacrificing efficacy
- Controls a broad range of plant disease-causing microorganisms (both bacterial and fungal)
- Stays in the plant tissue longer, serving as a Cu reservoir and minimizing exposure
- High efficacy against Cu-resistant strains of X. perforans, X. alfalfa, P. syringae, C. michiganensis and other pathogens
- Agricultural biocide applications