Advancing sustainable agriculture: a vital overview of sensible and eco-friendly nanomaterial functions | Journal of Nanobiotechnology


Nanoscience is a trending expertise in plant science that makes use of numerous steel NPs as agrochemical carriers or fertilizers have been well known for the previous decade [26]. These NPs present motion in seedling growth, plant development, germination, root development [27], elevated carbohydrate metabolism [28], ROS [29] transport of vitamins [30] throughout pressured and non-stressed circumstances. For the appliance of NPs to crops, totally different strategies of NPs therapy will be utilized, together with seed priming, foliar spray, and combination with soil, hydroponic tradition for sustainable agriculture (Fig. 4). Nevertheless, one ought to cautiously select therapy choices for NPs utility, as totally different therapy strategies want totally different NPs concentrations, and using increased concentrations of NPs may cause damaging results on crops. It’s also apparent that the mistaken technique of utility can exhibit toxicity to crops, and due to this fact, securitizing the strategy relying upon crops, nanoparticles, and stress circumstances are essential for sustainable agriculture (Desk 1). Determine 5 exhibiting the attainable phytoxicity response upon nanoparticle utility in crops. Subsequently, a number of features must be thought-about earlier than nanoparticle utility to crops (Fig. 3). Amongst numerous strategies of utility, seed priming expertise is essentially the most popularly used technique to induce the penetration of NPs by seeds through passive diffusion with water and this technique has proven constructive results. Throughout foliar utility, stomatal permeation, epidermal absorption and internalization are the main methods to make foliage to soak up these nanoparticles. This has many benefits that embrace serving to to struggle plant ailments and pathogens, offering important micronutrients by leaves which can be hardly ever current in nutrition-deficient soil [31,32,33,34]. In contrast to seed priming and foliar utility, a soil combination of NPs, hydroponic tradition or in vitro utility paves the way in which for the NPs to instantly meet the ecosystem; and will trigger damaging impacts to soil ecosystem. Subsequently, their use have to be fastidiously thought-about. Owing to benefits and downsides of strategies, seed trade is looking for appropriate priming agent and strategies of utility that would match nicely for sustained agriculture and stop detrimental results on the ecosystem. Thus, on this part, we talk about about extensively used steel NPs comparable to AgNPs, AuNPs, ZnONPs and CuNPs with respect to therapy choices and their impact on physiological and biochemical responses of crops. As well as, we additionally elaborate the poisonous or unhazardous results of NPs primarily based on the strategy of utility, the focus of NPs, and plant species.

Desk 1 Mode of nanoparticle utility influences phytotoxicity and their physiological perform
Fig. 4
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Totally different strategies of NPs utility and their physiological response in crops throughout stress and regular circumstances. Primarily based on the cited references, this determine was created utilizing Biorender software program

Fig. 5
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Diagram illustrating phytotoxicity of NPs by extreme ROS era, damaging nuclear materials, cell membranes, and organelles, in the end leading to cell demise. This determine has been reprinted with permission from [35] Copyright, 2019


AgNPs are a commercialized nanomaterial used within the medical subject as antimicrobial brokers and private care merchandise. As a result of their eco-friendly properties, lately, satisfactory curiosity has been developed amongst plant biologists to make use of AgNPs as an environment friendly nanomaterial within the agricultural sector to enhance seed germination, plant development and growth underneath environmental stress circumstances. Majorly, AgNPs are utilized to crops by seed priming expertise, foliar utility or by soil combination strategies. Additionally, the development in plant efficiency have been extremely modulated by the kind of utility used. Subsequently, on this part, we’ll perceive the main variations in plant development and efficiency throughout regular and stress circumstances when totally different strategies of AgNPs therapies are tailored. A biocompatible AgNPs have been synthesized utilizing kaffir lime leaves extract to judge their capability to enhance rice seed germination and starch metabolism after seed priming utility utilizing 5 and 10 mg/L AgNPs underneath regular circumstances [28]. AgNPs penetrated the seed coat and improved the water consumption, elevated ROS and H2O2, and improved seed germination in addition to starch metabolism in comparison with silver nitrate (AgNO3) therapy. These observations aided the speculation of nanopriming of seeds with AgNPs involving the loosening the cell wall of seed coat and endosperms at low concentrations [28]. Furthermore, the minimal nanoparticle focus utilized in seed priming not solely reduces manufacturing prices but additionally mitigates the widespread dispersion of nanoparticles within the surroundings. Because of this, seed priming emerges as an eco-friendly method.

The appliance of seed priming additionally minimizes the dispersal of the bigger variety of NPs into ecosystems as NPs therapy utilized to seeds didn’t attain soil and due to this fact, will be steered as a promising approach for its industrial use. Nevertheless, one must be cautious when utilizing seed priming of AgNPs to enhance seed germination and development of rice crops as a consequence of their measurement and concentration-dependent responses. Rice seeds soaked with totally different sizes (20, 30–60, 70–120 nm) and concentrations of AgNPs (100 and 1000 mg/L) decreased the germination and development of rice seedlings. Subsequently, it’s essential to contemplate optimum sizes and concentrations of AgNPs to forestall their phytotoxic results in rice seedlings. Throughout seed priming of 60 mg/L AgNPs improved agro-morphological parameters, biochemical parameters, and enzymatic actions in sunflower crops. Whereas by mixed strategies i.e., seed priming and foliar utility, improved plant yield, seed high quality and secondary metabolite contents of the sunflower crops, indicating that every technique of utility will be recruited to enhance distinctive traits of sunflower crops. Alternatively, 150 mg/L AgNPs by soil utility elevated the toxicity in sunflower crops by the buildup of AgNPs in root > leaf > stem, which was mirrored from the rise of antioxidants, lipid peroxidation, and diminished contents of chlorophyll, carotenoids, whole carbohydrate, and whole soluble proteins [36]. Related phytotoxic results have been reported on the vegetative development stage in comparison with that of germination in each cucumber and wheat crops that have been uncovered to 200 mg/L of AgNPs by in vitro utility [37]. In one other examine, constructive impact of urea with low concentrations of AgNPs (10 and 15 mg/L) by the appliance of seed priming and foliar utility has been confirmed by way of diminished diseased situation in seeds, increased germination charge, elevated chlorophyll contents, elevated stomatal conductance, and better seedling plenty in oilseed rape and cucumber underneath thermal stress [38]. In eggplant, foliar spray of AgNPs underneath drought circumstances improved development parameters, photosynthetic pigments, proline, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and antioxidant actions [39], suggesting using AgNPs can exchange dangerous pesticides and extremely concentrated mineral fertilizers. The pre-treatment of biosynthesized AgNPs with A. brassicicola confirmed important discount in lesions in comparison with A. brassicicola alone handled crops (Fig. 6). These outcomes recommend that the suitable collection of AgNPs utility can positively regulate the plant development and efficiency underneath stress and non-stressed circumstances.

Fig. 6
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{Photograph} exhibiting impact of silver nanoparticles in decreasing illness severity after (A) 48 h (day 2) publish an infection (B) Day 5 publish an infection (C) discount in necrosis of leaves (D) discount in variety of lesions shaped per leaf (E) Evaluation of illness parameters by way of (a) variety of lesions (b) variety of spores (c) leaf space lined with lesion (d) chlorophyll content material (e) contemporary and dry weight in silver nanoparticles pre-treated crops as in comparison with different therapies. Cont-Management, SNP-Biogenic silver nanoparticles lone, AB-A. brassicicola contaminated crops, AB+SNP-A. brassicicola contaminated, handled with SNP, FW-fresh weight, DW-Dry weight. Values are the means ± SD of three replicates. Means sharing totally different alphabets “a”, “b” differ considerably from one another at p ≤ 0.05. This determine has been reprinted with permission from [40] Copyright, 2020


AuNPs have been extensively utilized in numerous fields, together with drugs, biology, chemistry, physics, electronics, cosmetics, and so forth. Nevertheless, there’s solely a minimal variety of research reported in crops regarding plant development, growth and phytotoxicity. Typically, the crops uncovered to AuNPs exhibited each constructive and damaging results, that are majorly depending on focus, particle measurement, form, and species [41]. The tactic of NP utility to crops can be essential, i.e., whether or not the uptake is thru leaves, roots, or seeds [42]. In vitro examine in Arabidopsis seedlings indicated that direct therapy of the smallest AuNPs of 10 nm on the lowest focus induced root hairs however decreased the quantity and size of lateral roots with increased particle concentrations of AuNPs [43]. In glory lilly, 25 nm sized AuNPs at 500–1000 µM concentrations handled to soil for 40 days elevated the seed germination and vegetative development [44]. Equally, in maize, 11 nm AuNPs handled at a focus of 5–11 mg/L to soil for 10 days elevated seed germination charge. One other examine on AuNPs synthesized utilizing ecofriendly rhizome extract of galanga plant when utilized by seed priming technique, enhanced germination of naturally aged seeds of maize crops and improved total development, with out exhibiting toxicity at 5 to fifteen ppm focus [38]. A foliar spray utility of 10, 25, 50 and 100 mg/L AuNPs have been utilized to Brassica juncea, confirmed that 10 ppm AuNPs elevated quite a lot of leaves per plant and seed yield. Nevertheless, whole sugar content material elevated when 25 ppm AuNPs have been utilized, indicating that the decrease focus of AuNPs have been enough to boost physiological and biochemical parameters of Brassica sp.[45]. AuNPs are able to inducing stress-related mechanisms to offer resistance to emphasize circumstances in crops. For instance, a foliar utility of biosynthesized AuNPs diminished salt stress by sustaining appropriate ratio of reactive oxygen species to reactive nitrogen species (ROS/RNS ratio) and bettering protection mechanism in wheat seedlings. Thus, such AuNPs can be utilized as a substitute for chemical fertilizers to keep up nutritive standing, stop post-agricultural losses, and mitigate abiotic stresses [46]. In wheat, utilizing seed priming technique, 20 µg/mL AuNPs acted as a signaling molecule underneath chilly stress and activated a protection mechanism by bettering plant development and photosynthesis [47]. Total, AuNPs work finest at decrease concentrations to enhance physiological parameters underneath regular and abiotic stress circumstances (Fig. 7). Along with a physiological response, only a few research on the toxicity of AuNPs in crops have been additionally reported. AuNPs therapy affected the expansion and growth of assorted crops and confirmed contradictory results relying on the mode of NP utility. When onion crops have been handled with 15, 30 and 40 nm sized AuNPs in vitro for 4 h on the focus of 0.1–10 mg/L, authors noticed enhance in chromosomal aberrations and reduce in mitotic index [48]. In barley, 10 nm sized 10 mg/L AuNPs handled in hydroponic medium for two weeks decreased biomass and root size [49]. The administration of spherical gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) by hydroponic or soil mixing strategies demonstrated poisonous results. Particularly, within the case of tobacco crops, the appliance of twenty-two–25 nm AuNPs in growing concentrations resulted in dose-dependent DNA harm. [50]. Equally, spherical-shaped AuNPs sized 3.5 nm exhibited leaf necrosis impact after 14 days of publicity by transporting in size-dependent mechanisms and translocating to cells and tissues leading to phytotoxicity [51]. To conclude, AuNPs exhibited toxicity in vitro, hydroponic and soil therapy no matter crops used and due to this fact, seed priming will be tailored for the therapy with AuNPs to enhance plant immunity with out exhibiting poisonous results.

Fig. 7
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Varied forms of coatings on the nanoparticles and their influence within the agriculture subject: The steel nanoparticles will be coated with pure natural matter (NOM), amino acids, proteins, antibodies, polymers, surfactants, and negatively or positively charged moieties. Such coatings make the floor of nanoparticles both hydrophilic or hydrophobic and govern their stability in aqueous suspension, dissolution, transport in crops, and interactions with plant cells


Zinc (Zn) is an important ingredient for the plant development and growth as a result of carbohydrate, protein, and chlorophyll formation considerably lower in crops that devoid of Zn. The usage of zinc oxide (ZnO) or ZnSO4.7H2O) as fertilizers are restricted as a consequence of their low solubility in soil and poor bioavailability of zinc to crops. Subsequently, ZnONPs have gotten particular consideration in agriculture subject. Zinc nanoparticles have proven to own the flexibility to penetrate the seed coat that resulted in elevated aquaporin genes concerned in water uptake, seed vigor, bioavailability, solubility in soil, sluggish and gradual launch. The ZnONPs primed seeds had elevated affect on development and physiology standing in comparison with bulk ZnSO4 therapy, maybe as a consequence of larger capability to be absorbed and assimilated as a consequence of nano measurement. In a examine when Zn is added to the primed answer, it improved budding and seedling development of wheat seedlings, in all probability as a result of Zn is concerned within the early phases of coleoptile and radicale growth [52]. The rise of α-amylase in ZnONPs handled seeds can enhance availability of soluble sugars which in flip enhance the germination charge, seedling size, seed water uptake for bettering total metabolic exercise [47]. In comparison with seed priming, foliar spray of ZnONPs used increased quantity of ZnONPs however their use is kind of low in comparison with soil combination technique in wheat crops. As an example, soil utility of ZnONPs to wheat tissues used whole quantity of 500 mg for 4 plant replicates [53], whereas ZnONPs utilizing foliar spray to wheat tissues used solely 200 mg for 4 replicates denoting the environment friendly use of ZnONPs for bio-fortification in crops. This examine additionally confirmed the effectiveness of ZnONPs in bettering the expansion, chlorophyll contents, Zn contents, and by decreasing oxidative stress and cadmium (Cd) contents underneath Cd pressured water-deficient wheat crops. We additionally discovered that seed priming of ZnONPs on germination typically relies on the focus of NPs used, and selection of plant species [54]. As an example, underneath 1600 mg/L ZnONPs therapy, germination charge of alfalfa was diminished to 40%, and tomato seeds by 20% however elevated cucumber seed germination in comparison with management, indicating that increased focus of ZnONPs have an effect on the standard of germination. Within the egg plant seeds handled with 100 mg/L ZnONPs, the germination charge was elevated through decreasing the seed dormancy [51, 55,56,57] in comparison with foliar spray and soil combination. Equally, there have been concentration-based physiological responses noticed in habanero pepper crops when foliar utility was utilized. The foliar spray with totally different concentrations of ZnONPs confirmed totally different functionalities. 1000 mg/L of ZnONPs foliar spray on pepper crops precipitated constructive impact on plant top, stem diameter, chlorophyll content material, fruit yield and biomass manufacturing; however 2000 mg/L of ZnONPs foliar therapy negatively affected the above parameters. Similar dose resulted in enhance in fruit high quality, capsaicin content material, dihydrocapsaicin, whole phenols and flavonoids in fruits, and enhance antioxidant exercise suggesting that concentration-dependent ZnONPs results in pepper crops. Moreover, the seed priming and foliar utility of ZnONPs has additionally proven to exhibit abiotic stress tolerance. The primed wheat seeds used ZnONPs (60 mg/L) to keep up redox homeostasis by decreased ROS era, and elevated antioxidant enzyme actions comparable to superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase, thus stopping cells from ROS assault underneath salt stress circumstances. It’s well-known that low degree of Zn is unable to raise ROS as a consequence of poor activation of antioxidant equipment underneath stress circumstances [58, 59]. One other examine confirmed the appliance of 90 mg/L ZnONPs previous to warmth stress to alfalfa crops triggered localization of ZnONPs in vacuoles and chloroplasts, reversed the irregular modifications to chloroplast, mitochondria and cell wall by stimulating antioxidant enzymes and enhancing osmolyte contents, whereas in soil utility that didn’t occur [60]. When cucumber is handled with 100 mg/L ZnONPs by foliar utility, the nanoparticles improved drought-associated detrimental results by regulating morphological, physiological, and biochemical attributes. Related research of foliar utility of ZnONPs in bettering growth-promoting impact have been reported in wheat, cucumber, and eggplants underneath regular and drought circumstances indicating the function of ZnONPs as a promising fertilizer to enhance development and stress circumstances.

So far as toxicity is worried, the foliar utility of ZnONPs confirmed elevated oxidative stress at 400 mg/L. Whereas, the floor modification of 400 mg/L ZnONPs with silicon (Si) improved the steadiness, hydrophilicity of ZnONPs with improved salt tolerance impact with no phytotoxicity. Thus suggesting using ZnO-SiNPs in comparison with ZnONPs in pea crops [61]. The damaging impact was additionally noticed when ZnONPs at focus of 500 mg/L was blended in soil. This mixing elevated Zn in roots in comparison with bulk Zn handled pea crops resulting in root elongation, translocation of Zn to aerial components, and elevated H2O2 accumulation in leaves with the discount in antioxidant enzymes comparable to catalase (CAT), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX). Particularly, after twenty-five days of therapy, there was a big discount in chlorophyll content material, and enhance in lipid peroxidation, indicating the best toxicity as a consequence of accumulation in ZnONPs handled pea crops that may trigger large damaging influence on ecology and meals chain [62]. Subsequently, it’s essential to pick the NP therapy choices fastidiously when contemplating crop well being enchancment utilizing nanomaterials. Equally, in chickpea crops devoid of Zn confirmed an elevated in malondialdehyde (MDA) thus leading to decreased biomembrane integrity. Nevertheless, ZnONPs primed seeds reversed Zn content material and decreased MDA by defending membrane integrity [63]. Total, ZnONPs utilized by seed priming confirmed a constructive impact with out exhibiting toxicity to crops in comparison with soil combination and foliar spray. Functionalization of ZnONPs will be beneficial to attenuate the poisonous results of ZnONPs when the foliar spray is used. In abstract, selecting the optimum focus of NPs associated to the appliance technique is essential for getting advantages out of NPs.


Copper (Cu) is one other micronutrient for plant development and growth that’s concerned in lots of biochemical reactions of plant cells. There are additionally a number of research on the appliance of CuNPs to enhance seed yield and high quality underneath regular and stress circumstances. The dose of Cu within the nano or microform (nCu, nCuO, nCu (OH)2-a, nCu (OH)2-b, µCu and µCuO) and CuCl2 are essential for exhibiting helpful or detrimental results within the terrestrial ecosystem. As an example, cilantro crops handled with nCuO from germination to harvesting time has extra damaging results on germination, chlorophyll content material, and plant biomass in comparison with all different Cu primarily based particles indicating the function of nCuO function in exhibiting damaging nutritive results on cilantro crops [4]. Equally, research confirmed that seedlings comparable to Syrian barley[64], soybeans and chickpeas [65], mung beans and wheat [66], radish [6, 67, 68], lettuce [6, 69] have been affected at 0.5 mM nCuO, 500 mg/L, 335 and 570 mg/L, 10 mg/L, 0.1 mg/L inhibited development charge. Surprisingly, the strategy of CuNPs utility performs very important function in figuring out the nanoparticle toxicity of crops. As an example, seed priming with 4.44 mg/L CuNPs positively improved plant biomass in regular and drought circumstances. Whereas for bettering the standard of tomato fruits, 250 mg/L CuNPs are beneficial because it enhance bioactive parts comparable to vitamin C, lycopene, whole phenols, and flavonoids by elevated accumulation of antioxidant enzymes comparable to catalase (CAT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) [6, 70]. This means that the variations in focus of CuNPs and its influence on crops additionally fluctuate relying on the stress circumstances. Crops comparable to lettuce and alfalfa grown in hydroponic tradition with nCu, nCuO, nCu(OH)2-a, nCu(OH)2-b, µCu, and µCuO from 0 to twenty mg/L Cu focus confirmed diminished root size in each the crops. Particularly, the translocation of nCu to leaves in lettuce crops was noticed solely after therapy with 10 and 20 mg/L concentrations and particularly, in alfalfa crops the translocation of nCu was noticed within the dose dependent method. Thus, proving that the alfalfa was extra delicate to nCu in comparison with lettuce crops. Total, nCu therapies produces differential responses even between the crops of dicots. Equally, lettuce grown utilizing hydroponic tradition with 10 and 20 mg/L Cu@CuO and nCuSO4.5H2O confirmed diminished water content material, root size, dry biomass and modified defense-related metabolites in roots [71]. Nevertheless, foliar spray of 1050 mg/L to 2100 mg/L nCu(OH)2-b for the final 4 weeks earlier than harvest didn’t exhibit damaging results as an alternative, it elevated leaf biomass. Nevertheless, there was important adjustments within the metabolite comparable to cis-caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, 3,4-dihydroxycinnamic acid, dehydroascorbic acid occurred, demonstrating the prevalence of defensive response towards oxidative stress. Moreover, when cucumber crops uncovered to 200–800 mg nCu/Kg in soil elevated Cu accumulation in roots and capable of translocate considerably to stem, leaves and fruits, inflicting detrimental results. Equally, when Clarika unguiculata (mountain garland) have been uncovered to 10 mg/L nCu(OH)2-b in soil, it utterly arrested photosynthesis and precipitated stunted development in excessive mild ranges and restricted soil circumstances [72]. This indicated that seed priming and foliar spray of CuNPs are comparatively higher than hydroponic tradition and soil therapy for bettering the standard of dicot crops (Fig. 8). There are additionally research reported on CuNPs towards biotic stress tolerance.

Fig. 8
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Constructive and damaging results of various strategies of NPs utility in crops relying on this overview. This determine was created utilizing biorender software program

Micronutrients utilized within the type of nanoparticles confirmed efficacy in growing vegetable and crops yield and lowering fusarium ailments. A foliar utility of 500 μg/mL CuONPs to chrysanthemum plant with or with out Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. chrysanthemi diminished illness severity with a rise in dry biomass, plant top, horticulture high quality [73]. Thus, indicating that CuONPs capable of enhance total efficiency of chrystanemum crops underneath stress or non-stress situation. Moreover, priming of maize seeds with CuNPs exhibited drought tolerance by sustaining leaf water standing, chlorophyll, and carotenoids with decreased ROS and elevated antioxidant enzymes comparable to SOD, ascorbate peroxidase (APX), and anthocyanin contents [74].


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