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Nanotechnology for parasitic plant control

Abstract The field of nanotechnology opens up novel potential applications for agriculture. Nanotechnology applications are already being explored and used in medicine and pharmacology, but interest for use in crop protection is just starting. The development of nanodevices as smart delivery systems to target specific sites and nanocarriers for controlled chemical release is discussed. Some nanotechnologies can improve existing crop management techniques in the short to medium term. Nanocapsules would help to avoid phytotoxicity on the crop by using systemic herbicides against parasitic weeds. Nanoencapsulation can also improve herbicide application, providing better penetration through cuticles and tissues, and allowing slow and constant release of the active substances. On the other hand, new crop management tools could be developed on the basis of medical applications. Nanoparticles have a great potential as ‘magic bullets’, loaded with herbicides, chemicals or nucleic acids, and targeting specific plant tissues or areas to release their charge. Viral capsids can be altered by mutagenesis to achieve different configurations and deliver specific nucleic acids, enzymes or antimicrobial peptides acting against the parasites. Many issues are still to be addressed, such as increasing the scale of production processes and lowering costs, as well as toxicological issues, but the foundations of a new plant treatment concept have been laid, and applications in the field of parasitic plant control can be started. Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry

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