NANOTECHNOLOGY: Application of nanotechnology

Nano-agriculture involves the employment of nanomaterials or nano-based technologies in agriculture, aiming to get some beneficial effect on the crops in terms of productivity or quality. At present, the work on application of nanotechnology in agriculture is at its preliminary stage, worldwide. But in coming years we will witness more applications of nanotechnology in food and agriculture sector. The Government of India initiated a Nano Science and Technology Mission in 2007 through the Department of Science and Technology with an allocation of Rupees 1,000 crores (US$ 200 million) for a period of five years and continues to strengthen it (DST 2009). The Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India launched the Nanotechnology Initiative in Agriculture and allied sectors (Sastry 2007). Indian council on Agricultural Research ICAR has also initiated work on application of nanotechnology in agriculture. Service design process

Nanobiosensors for agricultural applications

The work on the development of nanotechnology-based biosensors to monitor soil health, plant growth, and disease onset is in progress. Biosensors have a biological component that reacts to changes in surrounding environment, and then produce a signal in a linked transducer, that can be further processed to generate data. Compared to the conventional methods, biosensors are more sensitive and specific and can give real-time analysis in complex mixtures in very less time. These biosensors can be linked with GPS system and connected to a computer for real-time monitoring. Use of these biosensors in agriculture, can be very useful in precision farming where productivity can be optimized by judging the soil and plant health and nutritional status before the appearance of visible symptoms of any deficiency or disease and providing the required inputs and conditions, in a timely manner with precision (Day 2005, Joseph and Morrison 2006). Biosensors for livestock animals can be used to monitor changes in hormone levels or antibody profile, thereby helping in timely breeding practices and veterinary interventions (Scott 2005). Run et al. 2007 described an amperometric biosensor for the rapid detection of organophosphorus (OP) pesticides, by using carbon nanotubes for the surface modification of glassy carbon electrode, for the immobilization of acetylcholine esterase and bovine serum albumin. The degree of inhibition of the enzyme acteylcholinesterase (AChE) by OP compounds is determined by measuring the electrooxidation current of the thiocholine generated by the AChE catalyzed hydrolysis of acteylthiocholine (ATCh) (Joshi et al. 2005). The large surface area and electro-catalytic activity of carbon nanotubes increase the sensitivity and stability of electrode. However, such biosensors using inhibition of acetylcholine esterase (AChE) for the detection of OP compounds are not specific, and are more indirect and slow. A preferred direct biosensing route for detecting OP compounds involves the biocatalytic activity of organophosphorus hydrolase (OPH) as described by Deo et al (2005). A bilayer approach with the OPH layer atop of the carbon nanotube (CNT)-modified transducer (glassy carbon electrole) used for preparing the CNT/OPH biosensor lead to a highly sensitive and stable detection of the enzymatically (OPH) liberated p-nitrophenol thus offer great promise for rapid on-site screening of OP pesticides.

Tags: , , , ,