University of Buenos Aires develops seed treatment through cold plasma
Dec. 29, 2016
The Agronomy School of the University of Buenos Aires and the National Technological University have jointly developed a seed treatment technology through the use of cold plasma.
The project improves the germinative power and the force of soybean cultivars (among others) and controls pathogen fungi such as Fusarium, which have a large impact on production.
Researchers term this technology as “cold plasma”. It does not have any collateral effects on the environment and is ready to be used on fruits. The solution was awarded by the Argentine Chamber of Biotechnology and the National Council of Scientific and Technical Investigation (Conicet), among others.
According to the researchers, these prizes revealed that the project can be taken forward and be used in commercial applications. The technology has already caught the attention of some companies in the sector.
“We realized that there are applications not only from the scientific point of view, but also from the entrepreneur,” said Karina Balestrasse, professor of Biochemistry and independent researcher of the Conicet, who is the head of this project.
Karina explained that the plasma is the fourth state of the matter, a fluid similar state to the gaseous, but with particles electrically charged, “The gas receives an electric discharge that generates electrons and the plasma at ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure. Different from the plasmas that are used in the industry, this material eases the work with biological material.”
The use of the cold plasma on seed treatment has already been researched in countries such as China, Spain and Russia. According to the project leader, “there are very interesting results” on the control of pathogens. “On soybean seeds which had infections levels of 65 percent, we achieved 100 percent of recovery of the germinative power and force,” Karina explained.
“Other assets of the plasma react with the biomolecules and destroy it, leaving the toxins and microorganisms that are harmless pathogens. On the other hand, the cold plasma weakens the membrane cell of the fungi, which results in it being deactivated,” Karina added.
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