Can Nanoparticles Help Plants Fight Against Cadmium Stress? (Botany / Nanotechnology)

Faizan and colleagues evaluated the possibility of reducing cadmium stress in a Solanum lycopersicum with the help of chitosan nanoparticles (CTS-NPs). They showed that the chitosan nanoparticles not only effectively reduced cadmium accumulation by increasing the nutrient uptake but also it successfully enhanced growth, photosynthesis, protein content and antioxidant enzymes under cadmium stress conditions. Their study recently appeared in the Journal Biology.

Nanotechnology is an important rising field, owing to several important functions in copious research areas. They have special characteristics due to their small size (less than 100 nm) which results in lofty surface areas and charges; therefore, nanoparticles (NPs) are highly reactive over their bulk scale counterparts. There are a number of NPs of diverse origin which can be used for multiple agricultural applications. One of them Chitosan (CTS-NPs). Studies have recognized that it might increase crop tolerance to negative conditions, including salt, cold and heat stress. CTS-NPs have been assessed as a powerful inducer of antioxidative enzymes.

Cadmium is one of the most toxic pollutants and represents a worldwide hazardous concern. In the agricultural system, Cd shows proficient root-to-shoot transduction, causing abnormalities such as nutritional shortage, reticence of chlorophyll formation, decrease in photosynthesis by troubling the enzymes concerned in the Calvin cycle, restraining the stomatal aperture by prying with the plant’s water balance, infuriating oxidative stress by changing metabolism, preventing crop growth by metabolic abnormality, and finally, limiting the plant’s growth which leads to plant death. Additionally, the deposition of Cd in the human body via food chain, poses severe problems and health issues, such as a high rate of cancer (prostate and lung) and bone malformation. Therefore, it is very important to conquer Cd toxicity and lessen the deposition and transportation of Cd in crop plants for standard plant growth and human security. However, there have been no studies that have researched the impacts of CTS-NPs on the fight of Solanum lycopersicum with Cd stress.

Thus, Faizan and colleagues conducted experiment on Solanum lycopersicum, one of the main and most important horticultural crops in the world, to determine the impact of chitosan nanoparticles on reducing cadmium stress.

The experiment was conducted in a randomized complete block with 20 pots (6 inch diameter) filled with soil and manure. The pots were fertigated with urea, single superphosphate and a muriate of potash, mixed at a rate of 40, 140 and 28 mg, respectively, per kg of soil to maintain the nutritional requirement of plants. Seeds of Solanum lycopersicum were sown to create the nursery, and at 15 DAS seedlings were transplanted to maintained pots. The Cd (0.8 mM) was provided in the solution as CdCl2·2.5H2O at the time of transplanting. Foliar application of CTS-NPs (100 µg/mL) was given at 25 DAS.

Data obtained from the experiment suggested that the CTS-NPs enhanced the plant biomass, SPAD index, photosynthetic rate, and protein content. While, the addition of CTS-NPs reduced Cd accumulation by increasing the nutrient uptake. Furthermore, CTS-NPs treatment enhances tolerance to Cd stress through hampering ROS production accompanied by H2O2 activity, through reducing the peroxidation of lipids by minimizing MDA content, and through improving enzymatic (CAT, POX, SOD), non-enzymatic (GSH and AsA), and osmoprotectants (proline) antioxidant contents that are considered as a first line of defense to protect plants from stress.

“CTS-NPs could probably lift efficiently sustainable agriculture not only regarding Solanum lycopersicum, but also in other crops in the future as an evolving methodology employing nanotechnology and agriculture.”, they concluded.

Featured image: Schematic diagram shows the impact of chitosan nanoparticles to encountering the cadmium stress in plants. Red and green dots indicate decrease and increase in a parameter, respectively © Faizan et al.

Reference: Faizan, M.; Rajput, V.D.; Al-Khuraif, A.A.; Arshad, M.; Minkina, T.; Sushkova, S.; Yu, F. Effect of Foliar Fertigation of Chitosan Nanoparticles on Cadmium Accumulation and Toxicity in Solanum lycopersicum. Biology 2021, 10,

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