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Plant virus nanoparticles - A new ally in pest control
USAgNet - 09/25/2023

Imagine a world where tiny particles could dive deep into the soil and combat pests right where they hide. Engineers at the University of California San Diego have brought this vision to life. They've crafted nanoparticles from plant viruses to send pesticide molecules to places they could never reach before. This spells trouble for pesky nematodes damaging crop roots and a win for farmers and the environment.

Traditionally, handling nematode infestations was tricky. Pesticides clung to the soil's top layers, and farmers used more than needed, risking soil and water contamination. But here comes the hero – nanoparticles made from the tobacco mild green mosaic virus. These particles, modified to be harmless to crops, can carry pesticides straight to the root level, addressing the nematode problem without extra pesticide doses.

The process is not just innovative but also pretty simple and cost-effective. The engineers mixed the nanoparticles with pesticides and heated them, creating tiny pesticide-packed spheres. This method preserves the pesticide's structure, meaning no new approvals are needed, speeding up the journey to farmers' fields.

Excitingly, the tobacco mild green mosaic virus is EPA-approved, clearing more hurdles on the way to becoming a practical solution. In lab tests, these nanoparticles showed they could transport pesticides to depths of 10 centimeters and effectively tackle nematodes.

While more tests on infested plants are pending, the technology holds immense promise. Future collaborations with industry partners and the U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory are in the pipeline, aiming to turn this breakthrough into a commercial product.

This development is a step forward in sustainable agriculture, ensuring that the food on our plates comes from fields where crops, and nature, are treated with care.

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