Copper Nanoparticles: Environmental Management of Insect-pests and Microbes

(De Gruyter) – By 2025 it is expected that the global population reaches eight billion; a major concern is then if agriculture can keep up with demands or if we will face food shortages. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year, around 1.3 billion tons of the edible food materials produced for human use is wasted globally.

A major reason for loss of food in the food industry is due to spoilage by various pests and microorganisms. The use of nanoparticles in food and agriculture can be used to improve crop yield. Copper nanoparticles (CuNPs) have attracted a great deal of attention from all over the world due to their broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity.

Copper is one of the key micronutrients, which plays an important role in growth and development of plants. CuNP-based fertilizer and herbicide can be used in agriculture. Compared to metals such as silver and gold, Cu is comparatively cheaper and ubiquitously available. Therefore, the use of copper nanoparticles in various agricultural applications is cost effective.

  • The small size of CuNPs facilitates their easy absorption by the plants.
  • CuNPs can be used in the food packaging to avoid the growth of food spoiling microorganisms.
  • The use of CuNP-based agar packaging materials has substantial potential to increase the shelf-life of food.

The authors present a review that focuses on the application of Cu and CuNPs in food and agriculture sectors.

Food crop production can be increased by the development of drought- and insect-pest-resistant crop varieties and microorganisms. Various metal nanoparticles may be applied for the development of novel nanoantimicrobials, which can be used as an effective tool for the management of plant diseases. Similarly, nano-fertilizers can be formulated, which are reported to be easily absorbed by plants.

It however has been demonstrated that CuNPs are harmful to plant when used beyond a certain concentration. Application of CuNPs in a higher concentration can affect the plant metabolism, thereby, affecting the yield. Therefore, for safer use of CuNPs in agriculture, there is an urgent need to develop a clear understanding of nanoparticle-plant interactions. If it is done in the right direction, CuNPs will be a great boon for agriculture and the food industry to produce and store food for a longer period of time with the negligible loss to feed growing global human population.

***

Edited for Content and Length by Dr. Matthew A. Hood.

The  full article can be found at De Gruyter in the journal of Nanotechnology Reviews.

2017 IMPACT FACOR 1.90

DOI: 10.1515/ntrev-2018-0031

Pin It on Pinterest