Silica Nanoparticle Dissolution Rate Controls the Suppression of Fusarium Wilt of Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus)

Hyunho Kang, Wade Elmer, Yu Shen, Nubia Zuverza-mena, Chuanxin Ma, Pablo Botella, Jason C. White, Christy L. Haynes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Projected population increases over the next 30 years have elevated the need to develop novel agricultural technologies to dramatically increase crop yield, particularly under conditions of high pathogen pressure. In this study, silica nanoparticles (NPs) with tunable dissolution rates were synthesized and applied to watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) to enhance plant growth while mitigating development of the Fusarium wilt disease caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum. The hydrolysis rates of the silica particles were controlled by the degree of condensation or the catalytic activity of aminosilane. The results demonstrate that the plants treated with fast dissolving NPs maintained or increased biomass whereas the particle-free plants had a 34% decrease in biomass. Further, higher silicon concentrations were measured in root parts when the plants were treated with fast dissolving NPs, indicating effective silicic acid delivery. In a follow-up field study over 2.5 months, the fast dissolving NP treatment enhanced fruit yield by 81.5% in comparison to untreated plants. These findings indicate that the colloidal behavior of designed nanoparticles can be critical to nanoparticle-plant interactions, leading to disease suppression and plant health as part of a novel strategy for nanoenabled agriculture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13513-13522
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental science & technology
Issue number20
Early online dateMar 8 2021
StatePublished - Oct 19 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CHE-2001611, the NSF Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology (CSN). The CSN is part of the Centers for Chemical Innovation Program. Parts of this work, especially TEM characterization, were carried out in the Characterization Facility at the University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from NSF through the MRSEC program (DMR-1420013 and DMR-2011401). ICP-OES and molecular work done by N.Z.M. and C.M. was supported by USDA NIFA CONH00147 and FDA 1U18FD005505. We acknowledge support from Dr. Alejandro Vidal and Dr. Carla Maria Vidaurre Agut for performing the solid state Si MAS NMR measurements. 29

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Chemical Society.


  • disease suppression
  • Fusarium wilt
  • hydrolysis
  • silica nanoparticles
  • watermelon

MRSEC Support

  • Shared

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.


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