Copper Based Nanomaterials Suppress Root Fungal Disease in Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus): Role of Particle Morphology, Composition and Dissolution Behavior

Jaya Borgatta, Chuanxin Ma, Natalie Hudson-Smith, Wade Elmer, Cristian David Plaza Pérez, Roberto De La Torre-Roche, Nubia Zuverza-Mena, Christy L. Haynes, Jason C. White, Robert J. Hamers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


With increasing global population, innovations in agriculture will be essential for a sustainable food supply. We compare commercial CuO NP to synthesized Cu3(PO4)2·3H2O nanosheets to determine the influence of coordinating anion, particle morphology, and dissolution profile on Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum induced disease in watermelon. Copper dissolution in organic acid solutions that mimic complexing agents found in plants was increased by 2 orders of magnitude relative to water. Cu3(PO4)2·3H2O nanosheets showed a rapid initial dissolution, with equilibration after 24 h; CuO NP exhibited continuous particle dissolution. In a greenhouse study, Cu3(PO4)2·3H2O nanosheets at 10 mg/L significantly repressed fungal disease as measured by yield and by a 58% decrease in disease progress. Conversely, CuO NP only yielded significant effects on disease at 1000 mg/L. In field studies, similar enhanced disease suppression was noted for Cu3(PO4)2·3H2O nanosheets, although biomass and yield effects were variable. The method of application was a significant factor in treatment success, with the dip method being more effective than foliar spray; this is likely due to homogeneity of coverage during treatment. The data show that Cu-based nanoscale materials can be an effective and sustainable strategy in the crop disease management but that particle characteristics such as morphology, coordination environment, and dissolution profile will be important determinants of success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14847-14856
Number of pages10
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 5 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation Centers for Chemical Innovation Program CHE-1503408, the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology. C.D.P.P. acknowledges the Federal University of Lavras Doctoral Exchange Scholarship Program. ICP-OES and ICP-MS work done by R.D.L.T.-R. and N.Z.-M. was supported by USDA-NIFA-AFRI 2016-67021-24985 and FDA 1U18FD005505-03, respectively.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Chemical Society.


  • Copper phosphate nanosheets
  • Disease suppression
  • Foliar application
  • Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum
  • Watermelon


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