Iain Lawson, Arwen Tyler
University of Leeds, UK
The global population, under the cloud of a worsening climate, is expected to rise 11.2 billion by the end of the century. The twin pressures of a growing population and an environment less amenable to prodigious growth of crops challenges humanity’s ability to meet the calorific needs of our contemporary, and near future, societies. The critical nature of this challenge compels us to develop more efficient, sustainable and effective agricultural praxis. Lipid nanoparticles (LNP) are a class of nanoparticles that hold promise for use in agriculture (1). These LNPs have certain advantages over typical liposomes such as a higher surface area and mechanical toughness for the delivery of bio-stimulatory active ingredients (AI). One process which may benefit from the delivery of vivifying AIs, is the promotion of the symbiotic relationship between plants and mycorrhizal fungi (2). Mycorrhizas are a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and a plant within the rhizosphere. Mycorrhizal symbioses can have both non-nutritional but primarily nutritional effects upon a plant that enhances plant survival and fitness. In exchange for the products of photosynthesis fungi, particularly, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi spread throughout the wider terrestrial department to provide plants with mineral nutrients, water and an improved soil structure. This is particularly important for non-mobile nutrients such as phosphorus. The aim of this project is to elucidate the effects of LNP application on plant health and mycorrhizal symbioses and further to deduce whether the use of LNPs and an appropriate AI can efficiently stimulate this all important symbioses.
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