Nanotechnology can make biopesticides more effective


The use of eco-friendly biocontrol agents as an alternative to chemical pesticides is prevalent in some farming communities. A group of scientists have now shown that it is possible to substantially enhance efficacy of such biocontrol agents by converting them into nanoparticles.

Researchers at the University of Agricultural Sciences at Raichur in Karnataka have developed a new technique to do so. They have converted secretion of a bacterium, Photorhabdus luminescens, into nanoparticles and found that its efficacy improved significantly. The bacterium is used as a biocontrol agent against a wide range of crop pests like mite, aphid, and mealy bug. The nano form of biocontrol agent has been tested against two sucking pests of cotton -- Tetranychus macfarlanei, a species of mite and Aphis gossypii, a species of aphid.

Reporting their findings in a recent issue of scientific journal Current Science, the researchers noted, “high mortality coupled with quick action emphasises the potential of nanotechnology in enhancing the pathogenicity of a microbial pesticide.” It was found that very low concentration of nano-particulated secretion could kill pests as against unprocessed secretion. This means farmers would be required to use very small quantities of biopesticide in its nano form.

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