Nanoparticle bio-pesticide to improve crop health, germination, and overall yield

A material and method of application for improving crop health and yield.
Technology No. 2020-068
IP Status: Pending US Patent; Application #: 17/024,489


  • Crop fertilizer and pesticides
  • Supplementary plant nutrition

Key Benefits & Differentiators

  • Combined benefits of silica and chitosan: improved health, increased germination, lower stress-related gene expression, and higher yield.
  • High pesticide/fertilizer loading capacity offered by mesoporous silica nanoparticles
  • High surface area particles ensure fast delivery
  • Reduce pesticide treatments
  • Multiple application sites: seed infusion or foliar exposure

Combined benefits of chitosan and silica nanoparticles

Each year, ~20-40% of agricultural crops are lost to diseases, contributing significantly to global food insecurity and financial loss to farmers. Owing to its antibacterial and antifungal properties, chitosan-based materials are being used as biopesticides and insecticides. More recently, foliar sprays with silica nanoparticles are being applied to crops to boost their defense response against diseases, insects, and stress.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota, in collaboration with The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, have developed a new silica and chitosan-based biopesticide material, and a novel method of application to improve crop yield by enhancing resistance against stress and fungal diseases. The material is made up of high surface area mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) a possible chitosan coating. By combining the benefits of chitosan and MSNs for crops, and a novel method of application, the researchers observed significantly reduced expression of stress-related genes, and up to 40% decrease in disease severity from Fusarium wilt in watermelon (Citrullus lanatus). In addition, a 70% increase fruit yield is noted for uninfected watermelon crops. The material has the potential to deliver one or more types of fertilizer and the material properties can potentially be tuned to adjust absorption rate.

Phase of Development

Proof of concept. Field and greenhouse study data has been collected on the efficacy of this material against Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum) infection in watermelon (Citrullus lanatus).

Christy Haynes, PhD
Professor and Associate Department Head, Chemistry
External Link (
Jason C. White, PhD
Vice Director, Department of Analytical Chemistry, The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
External Link (

Chitosan-Coated Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticle Treatment of Citrullus lanatus (Watermelon): Enhanced Fungal Disease Suppression and Modulated Expression of Stress-Related Genes
ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering (2019).,
Ready for Licensing

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