Australian researchers develop crop spray game-changer

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 18th January 2017

Researchers from the University of Queensland have lead the development of a new crop protection spray described as “revolutionary”.

‘Bio Clay’ spray was developed in conjunction with the University of Surrey in England and offers an environmentally-friendly alternative to genetically-modified crops and chemical pesticides.

When sprayed with BioClay, the plant “thinks” it is being attacked by a disease or pest insect and responds by protecting itself.

The spray gives plants virus protection for at least 20 days following a single application.

Those behind the spray say BioClay has a number of advantages over existing chemical-based pesticides, including that it is non-toxic, degradable and can be used in a highly targeted way to protect crops against specific pathogens.

Professor G.Q. Max Lu, co-author of the researcher paper, said the spray is one of the best examples of nanoparticles being effective for biological molecular delivery with a controlled release rate for combating diseases in plants or animals.

“The same nanoparticle technology invented and patented in my laboratory at the University of Queensland was used for effective targeted drug delivery. It was licensed to an Oxford-based pharmaceutical company and is now being commercialised for drug development,” Professor Lu said.

The research was led by Professor Neena Mitter and Professor Gordon Xu at the University of Queensland, in collaboration with Professor Lu of the University of Surrey.

A research paper, ‘Clay nanosheets for stable delivery of RNA interference as a topical application to protect plants against viruses’ was published in Nature Plants on 10 January 2017.


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