The Birth of NanoAgriculture

Mariya Khodakovskaya
Alexandru Biris

Update (5/30/13, azmanam): The paper referenced in this article was retracted in August 2012 for “unacceptable redundant inclusion of text and graphics from two works previously published in other journals.”

There has been a lot of concern over the health effects arising from the burgeoning field of nanotechnology, David Barden covered one such paper focusing on nanotube production in Highlights in Chemical Science earlier this month.[HCS] What hasn’t been as discussed are the potential health benefits of carbon nanotubes (CNTs). In a paper released yesterday in ACS Nano, Mariya Khodakovskaya & Alexandru Biris (+coauthors) found that tomato seeds grown in a medium of carbon nanotubes germinated and grew more efficiently than their control group brethren.[ACS Nano] This result is spectacularly seen from the image below.

After 27 days of growth.

The tomatoes grown in carbon nanotubes weighed more, grew longer stems, and matured faster. The authors reason this is due to the carbon nanotubes facilitating water intake, however the evidence provided doesn’t prove this beyond a reasonable doubt. Although I wouldn’t recommend eating these tomatoes just yet, one could still use the increase in plant biomass and efficiency for biofuels and related projects.

Link to paper: Carbon Nanotubes Are Able To Penetrate Plant Seed Coat and Dramatically Affect Seed Germination and Plant Growth



  1. Depends. What did a control experiment with charcoal, for example, show?

    • Seriously…how did this get published without that control? The increased growth could be from the added carbon source alone, not magic nanotubes.

  2. Artificial Student says:

    why is it not recommended for consumption? what is the difference between the carbon atom in the carbon nano-tube growth material and the atom of the carbon found in nature?

    • As not enough studies have gone into the biological effects in humans from carbon nanotube ingestion I am sticking to my statement, that it would be best not to eat food with them at this time. Especially since they seem to be able to penetrate cell walls.

  3. Why do tomatoes grow faster in carbon nanotubes than regular? and the relation between them?

  4. Pingback: Chemistry Blog » Blog Archive » Eating Carbon Nanotubes

  5. I truly impressed to this article Mitch! The way that it talks about something innovative that can change the way of farming is really cool! Im impressed to the ideas shared about nano technology especially to the nanotube thing. It seems that it is helpful for some people. Great work!

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