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Publication - Dr Tom Oliver

    Functional nanomaterials to augment photosynthesis

    evidence and considerations for their responsible use in agricultural applications


    Swift, T, Oliver, TAA, Galan, C & Whitney, H, 2019, ‘Functional nanomaterials to augment photosynthesis: evidence and considerations for their responsible use in agricultural applications’. Interface Focus, vol 9.


    At the current population growth rate, we will soon be unable to meet increasing
    food demands. As a consequence of this potential problem, considerable
    efforts have been made to enhance crop productivity by breeding, genetics
    and improving agricultural practices. While these techniques have traditionally
    been successful, their efficacy since the ‘green revolution’ have begun to
    significantly plateau. This stagnation of gains combined with the negative
    effects of climate change on crop yields has prompted researchers to develop
    novel and radical methods to increase crop productivity. Recent work has
    begun exploring the use of nanomaterials as synthetic probes to augment
    how plants use light. Photosynthesis in crops is often limited by their ability
    to absorb and exploit solar energy for photochemistry. The capacity to interact
    with and optimize how plants use light has the potential to increase the
    productivity of crops and enable the tailoring of crops for different environments
    and to compensate for predicted climate changes. Advances in the
    synthesis and surface modification of nanomaterials have overcome previous
    drawbacks and renewed their potential use as synthetic probes to enhance
    crop yields. Here, we review the current applications of functional nanomaterials
    in plants and will make an argument for the continued development of
    promising new nanomaterials and future applications in agriculture. This
    will highlight that functional nanomaterials have the clear potential to provide
    a much-needed route to enhanced future food security. In addition, we will
    discuss the often-ignored current evidence of nanoparticles present in the
    environment as well as inform and encourage caution on the regulation of
    the nanomaterials in agriculture.

    Full details in the University publications repository