Role of Nanotechnology in Plant Pathology

Introduction- Nanotechnology has valuable practices in management of plant disease in different ways; the most common is nanoparticle application on seeds and soil or leaves to protect the plants from pathogens or to control infection. Crop cultivation is affected with number of different fungal, bacterial and viral diseases. Plant pathogenic fungi must be controlled due to increasing consumer demand in developed countries for premium quality and diverse food; while high quality cereals, fruits and vegetables are indicator of economic growth in developing countries. Commercial agriculture is heavily dependent on high inputs of chemical pesticides to protect crops against pathogens and pests. After the introduction of fungicides in 1940, the use of fungicides increased highly for controlling diseases. Due to hap hazardous use of chemicals against diseases posed danger to living system killing not only the target harmful microorganism but also beneficial living organisms. The resistance of pests and plant pathogens against pesticides and fungicides is rapidly becoming a serious problem. To preserve biodiversity, it is becoming necessary to strengthen our strategies and achieve disease management by alternate approaches such as nanotechnology. Nanotechnology deals with manufacturing, study and manipulation of matter at nano-scale (or atomic scale) in the size range of 1-100 nm which can be called as nanoparticles.
“Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter at the level of individual atoms and molecules, as well as at the supramolecular” level (size of 1 to 100 nm) to create materials, devices & systems having new properties due to their small size.

Need of Nanotechnology in Plant Pathology :-
There are many devastating diseases present all over the countries and the losses due to these diseases are about 30 per cent at global level. In India, crop losses due to different plant diseases like blast, rust, powdery mildew etc. are about 26 per cent. Several pesticides sprayed on crops for removal of the pathogens and pests. Among all these pesticides only 0. 1% pesticides reach their site of action in plants and kill the pathogens and pests. Some pathogens are highly variable in nature and easily exhibit resistance against all the chemicals used to protect the crops. Due to excessive use of chemicals results in residual problem, environmental degradation and also affects other living organisms. To overcome these problems, we need to have an alternate strategy. By keeping the properties of nanoparticles in mind, nanotechnology is the best possible way to overcome these problems.

Role of Nanotechnology in Plant Pathology :-
Plant pathologists are working very hard to find a solution to protect food and agriculture products from bacteria, fungal and viral agents. Nanomaterials are being developed that offer the opportunity to administer pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers more efficiently and safely by controlling precisely when and where they are released. For example, an ecofriendly fungicide in its development stage uses nanomaterials to liberate its pathogen-killing properties only when it is inside the targeted pathogen. There are mainly two roles of nanotechnology in plant pathology. Firstly, it is used in disease detection through nano biosensors, a bio barcoded DNA, quantum dots and second in disease control. For controlling several diseases nanoparticles are directly used as antimicrobial agents, by target drug delivery to pathogens through nanotubes by improving resistance in plants etc. Quantum dots are very small (nm) fluorescent semiconductor particles, stimulated by an excitation light source. Due to their small size and other important properties, they are used in detection of a specific biological marker in medical field with greater accuracy. They are also used in cell labeling, cell tracking, in vivo imaging and DNA detection. A bio-barcode DNA is an ultrasensitive method of amplification and detection of proteins or nucleic acids. Bio-barcode assay is unique and a potential alternative to the PCR technique.

Dr. Monika Karnawat, Associate Professor, School of Agriculture Sciences, Career Point University, Kota

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