Russian scientists propose using zinc nanoparticles as microfertilizers to fertilize plants Russian scientists propose using zinc nanoparticles as microfertilizers to fertilize plants

Russian scientists propose using zinc nanoparticles as microfertilizers to fertilize plants

Russian scientists propose using zinc nanoparticles as microfertilizers to fertilize plants

Scientists at Russia's Southern Federal University have proposed using zinc nanoparticles as microfertilizers to fertilize plants.
According to scientists, this will increase the nutritional value of the products and protect people's health from problems associated with a deficiency of this essential chemical element in the human body. The results of the study were published in this regard in the journal Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark.

As university scientists pointed out, zinc plays an important vital role in the human body, and it is the second most abundant and important microchemical element after iron. Its deficiency can manifest itself in decreased immunity, hair loss, dermatitis, sleep disorders and a number of other symptoms that reduce the quality of life.

Researchers at the Federal University have proposed a method to enrich vegetable and grain crops with zinc using nanoparticles, a method that requires the use of nanomaterials to increase seed productivity and early plant growth.

Nano-sized zinc particles were applied to the seeds. This not only had a positive effect on seed germination, but also increased the digestibility of zinc from plant foods.

Only about 30% of the zinc in them is absorbed from food, said Tatiana Minkina, head of the Department of Soil Science and Land Resource Evaluation at Southern Federal University. “At the same time, zinc from plant foods is absorbed worse than from animal foods.”

She added that in order to increase the efficiency of feeding the plant with zinc, a foliar method was used for feeding outside the roots, that is, direct spraying of nutrient solutions on the plant leaves. In this case, the nutrients are delivered directly to the plant's vascular system, ensuring their rapid absorption.

Scientists have proven that introducing nano-sized zinc particles into the soil leads to a significant increase in the content of this fine chemical element in various crops. Therefore, the zinc concentration in brown rice is 13.5-39.4% higher than in untreated plants. The results also showed that nano-zinc significantly increased the bioavailability of micronutrients in harvested crops, meaning that humans could absorb it better.

“The study results not only demonstrate the high potential of nanotechnology in agriculture but also provide a promising solution to a global health problem,” Minkina explained, “and our research opens new opportunities to develop sustainable and effective strategies to combat nutrient deficiency on a global scale.”

The research team's next tasks are to expand the scope of the study and move it from the controlled laboratory to field conditions.




Exactly how much life exists on Earth?

Recent calculations, conducted by a team of biologists and geologists, revealed that the number of living cells on Earth exceeds the number of stars in the universe or grains of sand on our planet.
The number is estimated at one million trillion trillion, or 10^30 in mathematical symbol (1 followed by 30 zeros).

Microbes represent the vast majority of these cells, and they are so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. Many of them are cyanobacteria, tiny bubbles of energy and chemistry that swarm in plants and in the seas and assemble life as we know it, harnessing sunlight to make the oxygen we need to breathe.

“The big takeaway is that this sets Earth as the benchmark for comparative planetary science,” said Peter Crockford, a geobiologist at Carleton University in Ottawa and lead author of the report, published in the journal Current Biology. This result "allows us to ask more quantitative questions about alternative paths life could take on Earth, and how much life could be possible on our planet."

“In the vast cosmic arena, there may be planets that live fast and die young, while others are slow and stationary,” Michael Cape of Duke University, who was not part of the study, wrote in Current Biology Dispatches. “Where does Earth fit on this spectrum?”

Caleb Scharf, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, agreed with Dr. Crockford. “There have been a number of interesting pieces of work in the last year or two where people have taken a step back to really think about the ways in which life imprints itself on the planet,” he wrote in an email.

According to the fossil record, geology and evolution have been in harmony for 3.8 billion years, when our planet was only 700 million years old. At that time, the first single-celled creatures appeared, perhaps in undersea volcanic vents, feeding on the chemical energy surrounding them.

The number of cells has increased dramatically since then, even through geological catastrophes and extinction events, which opened new paths of evolution.

The seeds of animal life were planted sometime in the dim past, when some bacteria learned to use sunlight to split water molecules and produce oxygen. By 2.4 billion years ago, as photosynthesis took hold, the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere began to rise dramatically.

The Great Oxidation Event "was clearly the largest event in the history of the biosphere," said Peter Ward, a paleontologist from the University of Washington.

Without photosynthesis, the rest of creation would have little food. But it is just one thread in a web of geological feedback loops of weather, oceans, microbes and volcanoes, essentially keeping the Earth stable and warm and allowing life to thrive.

The emergence of cyanobacteria led to what is known as the Cambrian explosion about 550 million years ago, when multicellular organisms - animals - appeared in sudden and remarkable abundance in the fossil record.

Crockford and his colleagues realized that they could track cell growth over time by measuring mineral isotopes and the amount of oxygen in ancient rocks. As a result, they were able to estimate the total life that the Earth has produced since its beginning - about 10^40 cells, which is approximately 10 billion more cells than currently exist.

Although this number seems huge, it represents only 10% of all the cells that will be formed when the curtain falls on life on Earth a billion years from now.

As the Sun ages, the process of weathering and leaching of carbon dioxide will amplify, astronomers say. At the same time, as the Earth's interior gradually subsides, volcanic activity will subside, which will stop the replenishment of greenhouse gases.

As a result, "Earth's biosphere is unlikely to grow beyond ∼10^41 time-integrated cells over the entire habitable lifetime of the planet," Crockford said.

Dr. Crockford explained that the more cells there are, the more times they reproduce, producing more mutations.
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