The latest class of engineered nanomaterials, viz., carbon quantum dots (CQDs), has attracted attention because they are synthesized through green chemical procedures and from organic waste matter. The synthesis of these nano-sized particles synthesized from biomass such as fruit peel and other organic matter results in mixtures of CQD species that differ in chemical identity, activity and photo-physical properties. Generally used collectively as chemically heterogeneous ensemble, they have already had an impact on multiple sectors of our environment by use as wastewater sensors, switches, model agro-fertilizers, and in biomedicine. The transitioning of their applications to crops is an important crossover point that calls for an accurate and detailed assessment of their genomic, proteomic, and metabolomics impact on agriculturally important crops and produce. We review the current status of CQDs vis-à-vis their impact on the biosphere via recent model studies and comment on the knowledge gaps that need to be bridged to ensure their safe use in agronomy. A detailed knowledge of their impact on aquatic systems and the food-chain is critical for human and environmental safety and sustainability.
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