Global demand for increasing the food production is becoming a big challenge for researchers. Agri-inputs (fertilizers and pesticides)can contribute to diseage management and increase in production, howeverpoor bioavailability of agri-inputs is a major problem primarily due to their large particle size. As a result, only a small fraction of these chemicals are available to the plant, while the rest is wasted. Hence, the development of nano-agro inputs (NAIs), which exhibit extremely large specific surface area, facilitates enhanced interaction of these products and increase their bioavailability. Considerably small amounts of the nano counterparts can improve the agronomic efficiency of the solid agro-inputs, and consequently the plant health and crop yield.
Prof. Appa Rao Podile Dr. Rahul Kumar
Researchers at the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Hyderabad, led by the plant biologists Prof. Appa Rao Podile (http://sls.uohyd.ac.in/new/fac_details.php?fac_id=73) and Dr. Rahul Kumar (http://sls.uohyd.ac.in/new/fac_details.php?fac_id=116) have developed novel biopesticide (harpin-loaded chitosan nanoparticles H-CSNPs) and smart nano diammonium phosphate (nDAP) fertilizer formulations, respectively. The harpin-loaded chitosan nanoparticles H-CSNPs is a novel approach that was patented by Prof. Podile’s group at the University of Hyderabad. The development of nano phosphorus chemical fertilizer, nDAP, is an outcome of a research collaboration between Dr. Rahul Kumar and his collaborators.
The UoH team is collaborating with Dr. Tata Narasinga Rao and Mr. SreedharaSudhakaraSarma from International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI) to provide industry-viable phyto-nanotechnology solutions to preserve soil and plant health and also to increase crop production. The collaborating groups have demonstrated the superior agronomic efficiency of both NAIs at the lab level experiments. Both harpin-loaded chitosan nanoparticles H-CSNPsand nDAP have the potential to be the game-changers in agriculture with their superior agronomic properties, lack of the optimized processes for the large-scale production of these materials still need to be developed. Therefore, focussed research is required for process optimization and for scale-up the production of these NAIs that will help to improve the enhancing nutrient use efficiencyand contribute to increase in yield.
The Technology Development Transfer Division of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India is funding the collaborativeproject “Development and pilot-scale production of a novel nano fertilizer (nDAP) and a nano biopesticide (Harpin loaded Chitosan)” under Advanced Manufacturing Technology Programme with a research grant of Rs. 5.64 crores. Prof. Podile is the Project Investigator and oversee the research specifically on nanobiopesticide. Dr. Rahul Kumar,as a co-investigator of the project,will work on nDAP and scale up of the process in collaboration withDr. Tata Narasinga Rao and Mr. SreedharaSudhakaraSarmafrom ARCI. Dr. K.R.K. Reddy, the Managing Director of Sri BioAestheticsPvt. Ltd, Hyderabad, is the industry partner in the project and contribute 10% of the project cost for the proposed research,in addition to the infrastructural support and industrial expertise of his company.
The Vice Chancellor Prof. B.J. Rao congratulated the collaborating teams for their efforts in finding viable solutions to an important problem that is confronting the World.
Sustained release of Chitosan-HarpinPssnanoformulationupon foliar spray significantly reduced R. solanicaused fungal infection in tomato seedlings. Confocal live imaging microscopy further confirmed the entry point and localization of nanoparticles into the plant cell. The H-CSNPs hold great promise as a biopesticide with broad-spectrum activities. (Image from the published research from Prof.Appa Rao Podile’s laboratory by Nadendla et al., 2018; Carbohydrate polymers 199: 11-19)
The top panel indicates the process of nDAP production and the benefit expected to be offered by n-DAP over granular DAP (cDAP). The lower panel shows the agronomic superiority of nDAP over cDAP in promoting tomato seedlings’ growth with much-reduced quantity. Thus, nDAP holdsgreat potential to cut down Pi fertilizers input in agriculture. (Image from the published research from Dr. Rahul Kumar’s laboratory by Singh NRR et al., 2021; Nanoscale Advances3, 4834-4842)
Prof. Appa Rao Podile (PI), Senior Professor, Department of Plant Sciences, UoH
Dr. Rahul Kumar, Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Sciences, UoH
Dr. Tata Narasinga Rao, Director (In-charge), ARCI, Hyderabad
Mr. SreedharaSudhakaraSarma, Scientist, ARCI, Hyderabad
Dr. KRK Reddy, MD, Sri BioAestheticsPvt. Ltd