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Applied Research

Naveen Kumar Dixit
Assistant Professor
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Princess Anne


A large numbers of plant pathogens have developed resistance against multiple insecticides, fungicides, and bactericides, which necessitates the use of higher concentration and repeated use of pesticides. We are proposing the use of zinc oxide (NZO) nanoparticles (NP) to manage fire blight (Erwinia amylovora) in apple, bacterial leaf spot (Xanthomonas campestris pv. pruni) in peach, Escherichia coli, and Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici (FL) and Fusarium solani (FS) in soybean. NP interferes with the charge distribution across plasma membranes, promotes chelation of essential nutrients, and generates reactive oxygen species. Since the mode of action of nanoparticles is physical, pathogens cannot develop resistance against NP.  We expect NZO can effectively manage selected plant pathogens at lower concentrations. In vitro studies were conducted using 0.25, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 mM concentrations of NZO (10-30 nm diameter) to suppress bacterial populations. Similarly, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 mM concentrations of NZO (10-30 nm; 80-100 nm) were used to manage fungal pathogens. Based on in vitro results, 25 mM concentration of NZO (10-30 nm) was selected to manage FL and FS compromised roots in soybean. This concentration completely inhibited the growth of FS (NZO; 10-30 nm) and FL (NZO; 80-100 nm) in vitro. Our results showed that 0.25 mM, 0.5 mM, and 2 mM NZO (10-30 nm) concentrations completely suppressed the growth of Erwinia amylovera, Xanthomonas campestris pv. pruni, and Escherichia coli respectively. In vivo studies showed NZO (25 mM; 10-30 nm) mediated improvement in FS and FL compromised soybean roots. NZO treatment inhibited tissue senescence in primary root and increased the number of secondary and tertiary roots in soybean. NZO also increased the number of secondary and tertiary roots in control plants. We did not observe the negative effects of common zinc oxide (CZO) on bacterial and fungal strains at lower concentrations. NZO formulations can be used to manage these selected plant pathogens.    


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Authors: N. Kumar Dixit
  1. Kumar Dixit, N. Assistant Professor, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Maryland, 21853