Nanoparticles are already widely used in everyday products such as cosmetics, textiles, dyes, and paints. It is quite possible that these minute fragments of matter may in future not only come to play a crucial role in medicine and pharmacology, but also in the food and biotechnology industries.
The latest research currently being conducted in India has shown that nanoparticles can promote the growth of fungi and even assist plant growth. The Institute of Microbiology and Vinology at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is also to become involved in this new field of research and will be collaborating with the Indian specialist Professor Dr Ajit Varma to investigate the effects of nanoparticles on microorganisms, particularly yeast. Yeast is an essential ingredient in the production of bread, beer, and wine.
In the 1990s, Professor Varma discovered a fungus - Piriformospora indica - that grows in the Thar Desert in north-western India and significantly boosts the growth of various crop plants and medicinal herbs. Desert shrubs provide the natural habitat of the fungus. It can be readily cultivated, and the growth of many different plants is promoted when inoculated with the fungus. It colonizes the roots and sends out branched threadlike filaments, the mycelia, into the soil in order to find water and nutrients, which the host plant can then also benefit from. In the case of sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua), for example, the promotion of growth resulted in enhanced production of the active substance artemisinin by a factor of 2.5 in comparison with a control group that had not been inoculated with the fungus. Varma discovered a year ago purely by chance that the cultivation of P. indica is further facilitated in the presence of nanoparticles. When the fungus was brought into contact with titanium dioxide nanoparticles and used to inoculate broccoli seed, major improvement to the growth of the resultant plants was seen. "Our fungus interacts with the nanoparticles," explained Varma, who was in Mainz for three weeks thanks to sponsorship provided by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. "The nanoparticle stimulates the fungus and through it also promotes the growth of plants."
Working in collaboration with Varma, Professor Dr Helmut König, head of the Institute of Microbiology and Vinology at Mainz University, will be able to use these new insights within research fields that are already well established in Mainz. "We will be investigating the effects of nanoparticles on various microorganisms." The two academics have known each other since the early 1990s when König gave a lecture on the biology of archaebacteria while on a research fellowship at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, where Varma previously worked. "Because of their biotechnological importance for the food and biotechnology industries, we will be focusing in particular on yeast fungi," König announced. There will also be experimenting on bacteria and archaea to establish to what extent nanoparticles influence their proliferation, enzyme production, and survival. "We will obtain completely new insights into the cultivation of microorganisms if our experiments are successful. There is a massive potential here for industrial applications," König went on to state.
The Institute of Microbiology and Vinology has many years experience in the fields of wine microbiology and biogas production, and thus also in the cultivation of various strains of yeasts, bacteria and archaea, of which it holds an extensive collection. Collaboration with Professor Varma has already resulted in the publication of several book and journal contributions, and it is planned to extend this collaboration in future. Since 2004, Varma has been Director of the Amity Institute of Microbial Technology at Amity University near Delhi, India's largest private university with 50,000 students.
Petra Giegerich | idw
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences