Nanoparticles could help rescue malnourished crops | Science News

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Nanoparticles could help rescue malnourished crops

Normally used to fight cancer, these teeny liposomes deliver plant nutrients efficiently

By
9:00am, May 17, 2018
plant

PLANT 911  To help sickly plants get healthy and green (like these pictured), synthetic nanoparticles are the sugar that helps fertilizing medicine go down.

Synthetic nanoparticles used to fight cancer could also heal sickly plants.

The particles, called liposomes, are nanosized, spherical pouches that can deliver drugs to specific parts of the body (SN: 12/16/06, p. 398). Now, researchers have filled these tiny care packages with fertilizing nutrients. The new liposomes, described online May 17 in Scientific Reports, soak into plant leaves more easily than naked nutrients. That allows the nanoparticles to give malnourished crops a more potent pick-me-up than the free-floating molecules in ordinary nutrient spray.

Each liposome is a hollow sphere about 100 nanometers across, and is made of fatty molecules extracted from soybean plants. Once a plant leaf absorbs these nanoparticles, the liposomes spread to cells in the plant’s other leaves and its roots

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