Issue Date: October 12, 2009
Tomatoes Get Nano Enhancement
Forget vermiculite and Miracle-Gro. Sprinkling soil mix with nanotubes may be the key to speeding up the growth of your tomato plants. Mariya Khodakovskaya, Alexandru S. Biris, and coworkers at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, planted tomato seeds in agar medium laced with 10, 20, or 40 μg/mL of multiwalled carbon nanotubes (ACS Nano, DOI: 10.1021/nn900887m). In all cases, at least 30% of the seeds germinated after just three days. By comparison, tomato seeds grown without nanotubes took 12 days to germinate at the same level. Furthermore, tomato seedlings living on the nanotube-infused medium grew more leaves, roots, and stems and did so faster than nanotube-free plants. The Arkansas researchers suspect the nanotubes boost the tomato plants’ germination and subsequent growth rates by penetrating the thick seed coat and supporting water uptake inside the seeds. “We did not observe any toxic effects of carbon nanotubes on germination and growth of tomato plants in the studied range of concentrations,” Khodakovskaya says. But she notes that doing similar experiments with different types of nanoparticles or different plant species could produce very different results. “We are going to repeat our experiments on different plant species, including some important bioenergy crops,” she adds.
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