Exploration of nano carbons in relevance to plant systems
The effects of nano-carbon interactions on plant growth have recently been the subject of much scientific research. In the past, the use of insoluble nano-carbons on plants led to physical damage to the plant cells due to biochemical incompatibility; at present, the availability of dispersible or soluble forms of several nano-carbons avoids unnecessary physical damage, which could be a possible solution to the continuous increase in the demand for food. These interactions provide a feasible approach that is backed by the long-known results from age-old practices related to the simple addition of charred bio-waste as a carbon source, known as “biochar,” to the soil as a promoter of nutrients. The purposeful use of biochar significantly increases the rate of development of the next generation crop along with the retention of soil fertility. It is known that biochar contains a significant amount of nano-carbons along with micro carbon with oxo-functionality; these are hydrophilic and are readily passed through the plant roots. As such, the potential application of charred carbons/biochar in the growth of plant systems is a time-tested process, and the same can be expected with the nano-carbons. This perspective article provides a summary of the recent advances in the agricultural applications of nano-carbons. In particular, the cellular uptake, translocation, and accumulation of nano-carbons inside the plant, and their significant impacts on the plant physiological parameters are studied. Like plant growth, water uptake and protein expression properties, increasing crop productivity and disease prevention are correlated. The present perspective article also addresses the negative aspects that arise, based on a few reports showing the toxicity of nano-carbons; most of these are physical in nature and care is needed to determine the quality of the nano-carbons, which should be biocompatible.