Agricultural biotechnologist and research leader, Neena Mitter, has come up with ‘BioClay’, a special clay-like spray that can benefit farmers battling pesticide blockage in crops. The innovation will help the rural sector extensively. Mitter said the clay spray contained molecules that helped protect crops from invading pathogens, reported ABC.
The professor at Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation of the University of Queensland (UQ) is one of Queensland’s leading biotechnologists. She has been involved in biotechnological research in Australia for the last 16 years now.
“In agriculture, the need for new control agents grows each year, driven by demand for greater production, the effects of climate change, community and regulatory demands, and toxicity and pesticide resistance,” she told Phys.
She added, “Our disruptive research involves a spray of nano-sized degradable clay used to release double-stranded RNA that protects plants from specific disease-causing pathogens.”
The spray was produced in association of the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN).
“It will produce huge benefits for agriculture in the next several decades, and the applications will expand into a much wider field of primary agricultural production,” Professor Xu from AIBN told ABC.
The trial, using the nanotechnology BioClay spray, was run on a crop of tobacco initially to protect it from raiding diseases for up to 20 days. Then the team went on to test it on cowpeas and capsicums and it worked. After this it was established that it will work on other crops as well, including cotton.
Once BioClay is applied, the plant ‘thinks’ it is being attacked by a disease or pest insect and responds by protecting itself from the targeted pest or disease, Neena told Phys.
“A single spray of BioClay protects the plant and then degrades, reducing the risk to the environment or human health,” she added.
While there are other chemical and research companies who have been trying to successfully create the similar nanotechnological spray and make it for public use, QAAFI and AIBN team have become the first one to create it, which also renders long-lasting effect.
The woman behind this research, Mitter says that she hopes to bring it to the public in the next three to five years.
“There is a lot of work going on in using gene silencing in a spray, but I think we are fairly progressed in our own BioClay product,” she said.
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