Research Highlight

Antifungal nanoparticles boost maize growth

doi:10.1038/nindia.2016.150 Published online 17 November 2016

Nanoparticles that fight disease-causing fungi have potential for boosting yields of maize, researchers report. A collaborative study between Indian scientists have found that copper-containing chitosan nanoparticles can increase the growth of maize seeds by enhancing the activities of specific enzymes1.

Previous studies have shown that metal nanoparticles can increase crop yields, but those were toxic and non-degradable.

Researchers from the Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology in Rajasthan and Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University in Haryana set out to prepare eco-friendly nanoparticles. They trapped copper in a porous network of chitosan nanoparticles and tested their efficiency to increase the growth of maize seeds compared with those of water, bulk chitosan and copper sulphate.

The copper-based nanoparticles significantly increased the length of shoot, root, seedling, root number and weight of the seedlings by enhancing the activities of specific enzymes such as alpha-amylase and protease, which, in turn, rapidly mobilized starch and increased protein synthesis.

The nanoparticles released copper slowly and steadily into maize seeds, reducing the chances of copper-induced toxic effects. These findings will open the possibility of using other micronutrients in the form of metal chitosan nanoparticles, the researchers say.


1. Saharan, V. et al. Cu-Chitosan nanoparticle mediated sustainable approach to enhance seedling growth in maize by mobilizing reserved food. J. Agric. Food. Chem.64, 6148-6155 (2016)