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Agriculture Drug Delivery Technology Formulated To Eliminate Crop Pests Costing $157 Billion Per Year

By Lester Mondragon | Jun 04, 2017 02:17 AM EDT

An Agriculture Drug Delivery Technology is in the final stages of development by researchers from the Case Western Reserve University, one of the best research Institution based in Cleveland, Ohio. The pests, tiny roundworms called nematodes, infect crops worldwide costing a whopping $157 billion in crop failures.

Nematodes tend to survive due to their deep rooting below the plants that are unreachable by the pesticides. The chemicals remain on the topsoil while the pests feed on the roots of plants. Farmers tend to apply more pesticides that could cause chemicals transfer into plant harvests and eventually consumed by humans. The overdose of chemicals causes leaching, a run off of the pesticides to other parts of the area drained by a deluge.

Leaching causes environment destruction when washed off by so much water. The wash off contaminates water sources that empty to the seas and further damages marine ecology. These consequences equate to costs adding to the money spent in crop failures, reports Market Scale Food and Beverage. It is on this premise that the agriculture drug delivery technology is formulated to rid of the pests and give a timely solution to the problem.

Researchers from the Department of Biomedical Engineering of the University used a biological nanoparticle virus to apply the pesticide to the pests' location, said Ph.D. student and author of the study, Paul Chariou. The team published their results of the agriculture drug delivery technology in the scientific Journal ACS Nano. He further adds that the method of delivery is safe and lessens the risk of leaching and transposition of chemicals to crops due to soil diffusion.

Parasites in the form of nematodes infect major species of agricultural crops such as corn, wheat, rice, coffee, soybean, potatoes, and fruit bearing trees. The pests attack the roots of these plants disabling the capacity to produce a good harvest affecting the output of the target demand in the market, reports Physics.Org. This is where the agriculture drug delivery technology sets in.

To implement the agriculture drug delivery technology to the crop root level, researchers took advantage of the nano virus known as the tobacco mild green mosaic virus (TMGMV), which is in use in Florida as weed exterminator but is benign to nematodes. The nano-virus self-assembled in a tube-like container with the dimension of 300 nanometers long by 18 nanometers wide with a hollow channel of 4 nanometers wide. The virus was tested with nematicides called crystal violet, used to treat skin problems but not on agriculture.

The positively charged nematicides fused with the virus by about 1500 is to one. Burying the capsules into the soil with a PH5 condition, The nematicides constantly clung to the virus up to the root level. The nematicides diffuse away in time from the TMGMV and were eaten by the nematodes wherein the pests eventually die. The method completes the agriculture drug delivery technology of getting rid of the nematodes infecting crops.

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