Nanocompounds Enhance Microbial Activity On Soil, Enrich Crops

We live in a world where day to day objects seems to be getting smaller and better. The advent of nanotechnology is a major contributing factor to this phenomenon. Defined as the “engineered construction of matter at the molecular level”, nanotechnology has applications and uses in a multitude of fields. From medicine, electronics, food, clothing, batteries and environment, nanotechnology seems to be pushing the limits of all these fields. Now, scientist have discovered yet another novel application of nanotechnologyfacilitating soil microbial growth.

Indian scientists from the G. B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnangar, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar, and State Council for Science & Technology, Dehradun, studied the impact of three nanocompounds on soil microbial activity and the health of plants being cultivated.

The scientists found that supplementing agricultural soils with nanocompounds like nanoclay, nanochitosan and nanozeolite led to a higher growth of microbial populations in the soil. And such an increased microbial population further led to increased levels of phosphorus, organic carbon and nitrogen in the soils, all of which are known to improve the health of crops being cultivated. Additionally, the scientists also observed increased levels of microbial enzyme activity in the soil, as well as a 50% rise in the total protein content of the soil.

Although nanoclay had the least effect on the soil’s pH, nanozeolite was found to best facilitate the growth of soil microbes. An increase in soil microbial activity along with all the other downstream benefits, caused by these nanocompounds, are all an indicator of enhanced soil health. Therefore, supplementing soils with such nanocompounds could go a long way in improving the agricultural soils, plant health and ultimately, the crop yields of the country.


How To Monitor and Combat Diabetes With A Simple Patch

In the future, diabetics may be able to replace finger prick tests and injections with this non-invasive smart patch to keep their glucose levels in check.


The device is a type of patch which enables diabetic patients to monitor blood sugar levels via sweat without taking blood samples and control glucose levels by injecting medication“, says Kim Dae-Hyeong, researcher at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), Seoul National University, South Korea.

After analyzing the patient’s sweat to sense glucose, the patch’s embedded sensors constantly test pH, humidity, and temperature – important factors for accurate blood sugar readings. The graphene-based patch is studded with micro-needles coated with medication that pierce the skin painlessly. When the patch senses above normal glucose levels a tiny heating element switches on which dissolves the medication coating the microneedles and releases it into the body. The prototype worked well in mice trials.

Diabetic patients can easily use our device because it does not cause any pain or stress them out. So they can monitor and manage blood glucose levels more often to prevent increasing it. Therefore, our device can greatly contribute to helping patients avoid complications of the disease“, comments Professor Kim Dae-Hyeong. Researchers want to lower the cost of production, while figuring out how to delivery enough medication to effectively treat humans, both major hurdles towards commercialization. The research was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology in March.


Your Own Farm Indoors

Growing your own produce just got really easy. This is a farm cube – a fully enclosed ecosystem capable of growing hydroponic vegetables indoors.

growing vegetables indoorsCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO
In this one (Farm Cube), the one cycle, around six weeks, 200 pieces or 100 pieces depending on different vegetable”, says Jack Ting, CEO of the company Opcom (Taiwan). Seedlings are loaded into the cube. The growth cycle is then completely automated using farming software that monitors the plants and adjusts the environment accordingly, adding the perfect amount of air, light, and water needed for different stages of development. Not home and worried about your farm cube? There’s an App for that. Cameras and sensors allow you to monitor everything from the PH levels to the LED light settings from anywhere with an Internet connection. Its makers boast that the veg produced in their cubes are better for you than anything you can pick up at the market.

All water is UV light purified so it is very safe, even our vegetables, no need to wash“, adds Jack Ting. The company also makes the Farm Container. This solar powered multi-cube system can grow 2,000 plants at once…enough lettuce to feed an army of vegetarians with big appetites.


DNA, Tool To Detect Cancer At Early Stage

Bioengineers at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and the University of Montreal have used DNA to develop a tool that detects and reacts to chemical changes caused by cancer cells and that may one day be used to deliver drugs to tumor cells.
The researchers’ nanosensor measures pH variations at the nanoscale – –how acidic (a higher pH level) or alkaline (a lower pH level) it is. Many biomolecules, such as enzymes and proteins, are strongly regulated by small pH changes. These changes affect in turn biological activities such as enzyme catalysis, protein assembly, membrane function and cell death. There is also a strong relation between cancer and pH.
Cancer cells often display a lower pH compared to normal cells: the pH level inside cancer cells is higher than it is outside.

DNA-based nanosensor that allows to measure pH variation at the nanoscale

In living organisms, these small pH changes typically occur in tiny areas measuring only few hundred nanometers,” says Prof. Francesco Ricci. “Developing sensors or nanomachines that can measure pH changes at this scale should prove of utility for several applications in the fields of in-vivo imaging, clinical diagnostics and drug-delivery.
DNA represents an ideal material to build sensors or nanomachines at the nanometer scale” adds Prof. Vallée-Bélisle. “By taking advantage of a specific DNA sequences that form pH-sensitive triple helix, we have designed a versatile nanosensor that can be programmed to fluoresce only at specific pH values.” Fluorescence is the emission of radiation, including visible light, caused by an exchange of energy.
This programming ability represents a key feature for clinical applications –we can design a specific sensor to send a fluorescent signal only when the pH reaches a specific value which is, for example, characteristic of a specific disease,” concludes first author Andrea Idili.
In the future, this recently patented nanotechnology may also find applications in the development of novel drug-delivery platforms that release chemio-therapeutic drugs only in the vicinity of tumor cells..