Pesticides are an important tool used by farmers to combat insects, fungi and other troublesome pests. But scientists have long worried about their impact on the environment and have sought ways to better employ them in the field.

Now comes a new breakthrough that may help address that problem.

Researchers have discovered a particular plant virus that can deliver pesticide molecules deeper below the ground, targeting places normally beyond their reach. This has the benefit of limiting a pesticide’s impact on the natural world.

As reported in Science Daily:

In lab tests, the researchers attached a model insecticide to different types of nanoparticles and watered them through columns of soil.

Tobacco mild green mosaic virus outperformed most of the other nanoparticles tested in the study. It carried its cargo down to 30 centimeters below the surface. PLGA and mesoporous silica nanoparticles, which researchers have studied for pesticide and fertilizer delivery, carried their payloads 8 and 12 centimeters deep, respectively.”

While it may sound counterintuitive that a plant virus can be used to boost a plant’s health, the scientists believe that current research surrounding nanotechnology supports the notion that plant viruses can be utilized as a safe and effective means to deliver pesticides. A similar use of nanoparticles, they explain, is currently employed in medicine to target drugs toward sites of disease and reduce their side effects on patients.

For more information on this important study, visit the full story posted on the UC San Diego News Center website.

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  • CFACT, founded in 1985 by Craig Rucker and the late (truly great) David Rothbard, examines the relationship between human freedom, and issues of energy, environment, climate, economics, civil rights and more.