Improving food production through nutrient minerals nanotechnology

Biosynthesized Nutrient Minerals

Improving food production is a great challenge of the 21st century – not just in terms of yield, but in terms of nutritional quality, with nutrient minerals research gaining momentum.  Research published by (Raliya et al., 2016) looked at improving rock phosphate application by adding biosynthesized ZnO nanoparticles.  Zinc acts as a co-factor in phosphorus-solubilizing enzymes.  Additional benefits included increased stem height, root volume, leaf proteins and chlorophyll contents.  ZnO nanoparticles were also distributed in all plant parts including the seeds in low concentrations, with implications for nutrition.  Additional success has been also been acheived through foliar applications of nanoparticle nutrient minerals (Wang et al., 2013).

Attrition Milled Nutrient Minerals

nutrient minerals
Biosynthesized ZnO particles (Raliya et al., 2016) on left compared with hornblende minerals attrition milled by 24 hours (Harley, 2002) developed for fertilizer applications as nutrient minerals.

My interest in this dates back to my post graduate research work where I was looking at attrition milling of silicate minerals to create the same nanoparticles through physical processing.  The results were unfortunately inconsistent and not economically viable.  The ability to create these through biosynthesis is an exciting development in terms of not only developing a consistent product, but also developing tailored mineral supplementation.  More information on the importance of nutrient minerals can be found here.

Nutrient Minerals Impact on Soil and Food Quality

Of additional interest, within the rhizosphere the increased chlorophyll content and root volume attract microbial populations that maintain soil biological health, which in turn has an impact initially on food quality and ultimately human health.  To understand this relationship better, I recommend reading The Hidden Half of Nature (Montgomery and Bikle, 2015).  You can also find more in a past blog on the subject.

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Andrew Harley Soils Blog



Harley, A (2002) The Evaluation and Improvement of Silicate Mineral Fertilisers. PhD Thesis, Department of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science, University of Western Australia, 144pp.

Montgomery, D., and A. Bikle, 2015, The Hidden Half of Nature. The Microbial Roots of Life and Health, W.W. Norton & Company, 320 p.

Raliya, R., J. Tarafdar, and P. Biswas, 2016, Enhancing the Mobilization of Native Phosphorus in the Mung Bean Rhizosphere Using ZnO Nanoparticles Synthesized by Soil Fungi. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, v. 64, p. 3111-3118.

Wang, W.,  J. Tarafdar, and P. Biswas, 2013, Nanoparticle synthesis and delivery by an aerosol route for watermelon plant foliar uptake.  Journal of Nanoparticle Research, 15, 1-13.

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