Special Issue "Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food Industry"

A special issue of Nanomaterials (ISSN 2079-4991).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Cubadda Francesco
Website
Guest Editor
Istituto Superiore di Sanità - National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy
Interests: analytical chemistry; food safety; micronutrient nutrition; nanomaterials; nanotoxicology; nanotechnology agri-food applications; risk assessment
Dr. Federica Aureli
Website
Guest Editor
Istituto Superiore di Sanità - National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy
Interests: analytical chemistry; mass spectrometry; hyphenated techniques; nanomaterials; food safety; risk assessment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The broad area of food, nutrition, and health is becoming a favorite sector for nanotechnology applications aimed at generating novel and useful properties by bringing materials to the nanoscale. This is especially true in the agri–food sector, where a number of nanotechnology applications are rapidly emerging in a variety of areas, from agricultural production (e.g. nano-formulated agrochemicals, such as nano-fertilizers and nano-pesticides, animal feeds, etc.), to food processing (nano-sized ingredients, nutritional supplements, and additives) and packaging (food contact materials).

It is indisputable that nanotechnology applications in the food sector may bring benefits, for example, they may lead to the production of improved nutrient sources (as a result of higher bioavailability or less severe side-effects upon ingestion). However, potential risks have to be assessed and excluded. Although making materials smaller can generate novel and useful properties, concerns exist on the potential risks related to the interactions of nano-sized materials with cellular components, which may ultimately harm human health. The unique physicochemical properties of engineered nanomaterials may influence the toxicological properties, first of all the toxicokinetic behaviour, and an appropriate nano-specific risk assessment has to be carried out for nanotechnology applications that result in the presence of nanoparticles in food.

This Special Issue aims to provide an overview of the current and projected nanotechnology applications in agriculture and the food industry, as well as of the developments in assessing the safety of nanomaterials, with emphasis on the development of appropriate nano-specific risk assessment approaches.

Dr. Cubadda Francesco
Dr. Federica Aureli
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • nanomaterials
  • nanotechnology applications
  • agricultural production
  • food processing
  • food packaging
  • nano-safety
  • nano-specific risk assessment

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Few-Layer Graphene on the Sexual Reproduction of Seed Plants: An In Vivo Study with Cucurbita pepo L.
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(9), 1877; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10091877 - 19 Sep 2020
Abstract
Products containing graphene-related materials (GRMs) are becoming quite common, raising concerns for environmental safety. GRMs have varying effects on plants, but their impact on the sexual reproduction process is largely unknown. In this study, the effects of few-layer graphene (FLG) and a similarly [...] Read more.
Products containing graphene-related materials (GRMs) are becoming quite common, raising concerns for environmental safety. GRMs have varying effects on plants, but their impact on the sexual reproduction process is largely unknown. In this study, the effects of few-layer graphene (FLG) and a similarly layered phyllosilicate, muscovite mica (MICA), were tested in vivo on the reproductive structures, i.e., pollen and stigma, of Cucurbita pepo L. ssp. pepogreyzini’ (summer squash, zucchini). Pollen was exposed to FLG or MICA, after careful physical-chemical characterization, at concentrations of 0.5 and 2 mg of nanomaterial (NM) per g of pollen for up to six hours. Following this, pollen viability was tested. Stigmas were exposed to FLG or MICA for three hours and then analyzed by environmental scanning electron microscopy to verify possible alterations to their surface. Stigmas were then hand-pollinated to verify the effects of the two NMs on pollen adhesion and in vivo pollen germination. FLG and MICA altered neither pollen viability nor the stigmatic surface. However, both NMs equivalently decreased pollen adhesion and in vivo germination compared with untreated stigmas. These effects deserve further attention as they could impact on production of fruits and seeds. Importantly, it was shown that FLG is as safe as a naturally occurring nanomaterial. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food Industry)
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Open AccessArticle
Pyrogenic and Precipitated Amorphous Silica Nanoparticles Differentially Affect Cell Responses to LPS in Human Macrophages
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(7), 1395; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10071395 - 18 Jul 2020
Abstract
Previous work has demonstrated that precipitated (NM-200) and pyrogenic (NM-203) Amorphous Silica Nanoparticles (ASNPs) elicit the inflammatory activation of murine macrophages, with more pronounced effects observed with NM-203. Here, we compare the effects of low doses of NM-200 and NM-203 on human macrophage-like [...] Read more.
Previous work has demonstrated that precipitated (NM-200) and pyrogenic (NM-203) Amorphous Silica Nanoparticles (ASNPs) elicit the inflammatory activation of murine macrophages, with more pronounced effects observed with NM-203. Here, we compare the effects of low doses of NM-200 and NM-203 on human macrophage-like THP-1 cells, assessing how the pre-exposure to these nanomaterials affects the cell response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Cell viability was affected by NM-203, but not by NM-200, and only in the presence of LPS. While NM-203 stimulated mTORC1, neither ASNPs activated NFκB or the transcription of its target genes PTGS2 and IL1B. NM-200 and NM-203 caused a block of the autophagic flux and inhibited the LPS-dependent increase of Glutamine Synthetase (GS) expression. Both ASNPs suppressed the activation of caspase-1, delaying the LPS-dependent secretion of IL-1β. Thus, ASNPs modulate several important pathways in human macrophages, altering their response to LPS. NM-203 had larger effects on autophagy, mTORC1 activity and GS expression than NM-200, confirming the higher biological activity of pyrogenic ASNPs when compared with precipitated ASNPs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food Industry)
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Open AccessArticle
Considerations for and Guidance to Testing and Evaluating Migration/Release of Nanoparticles from Polymer Based Nanocomposites
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(6), 1113; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10061113 - 05 Jun 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The use of nanoadditives in food contact materials requires risk assessment to ensure consumers’ safety. The evaluation of health risk is based on the combination of two elements: hazard and exposure. For nanomaterials (NM) used as additives in nanocomposites, the exposure is directly [...] Read more.
The use of nanoadditives in food contact materials requires risk assessment to ensure consumers’ safety. The evaluation of health risk is based on the combination of two elements: hazard and exposure. For nanomaterials (NM) used as additives in nanocomposites, the exposure is directly linked to the level of migration or release of the NM into the food. In principle, appropriate methods for experimental determination and theoretical estimation of migration are available but need diligent considerations to avoid erroneous conclusions from the measured data. We propose a comprehensive test scheme based on these methods, starting with characterization of the nanomaterial itself and when incorporated in the polymer. These data form the basis for making a decision whether migration of the NM can be excluded by migration theoretical considerations or if experimental migration testing and/or abrasion testing for mechanical release should be carried out. Guidance to and considerations for each of these steps and regarding the applicable methods are discussed. In conclusion, the results will provide a basis for risk assessment, either directly when exposure of consumers to the nanomaterials can be excluded or will be very low or, in the case of evidenced exposure, in combination with then needed toxicological data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food Industry)
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Open AccessArticle
Reducing Nitrogen Dosage in Triticum durum Plants with Urea-Doped Nanofertilizers
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(6), 1043; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10061043 - 29 May 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Nanotechnology is emerging as a very promising tool towards more efficient and sustainable practices in agriculture. In this work, we propose the use of non-toxic calcium phosphate nanoparticles doped with urea (U-ACP) for the fertilization of Triticum durum plants. U-ACP nanoparticles present very [...] Read more.
Nanotechnology is emerging as a very promising tool towards more efficient and sustainable practices in agriculture. In this work, we propose the use of non-toxic calcium phosphate nanoparticles doped with urea (U-ACP) for the fertilization of Triticum durum plants. U-ACP nanoparticles present very similar morphology, structure, and composition than the amorphous precursor of bone mineral, but contain a considerable amount of nitrogen as adsorbed urea (up to ca. 6 wt % urea). Tests on Triticum durum plants indicated that yields and quality of the crops treated with the nanoparticles at reduced nitrogen dosages (by 40%) were unaltered in comparison to positive control plants, which were given the minimum N dosages to obtain the highest values of yield and quality in fields. In addition, optical microscopy inspections showed that Alizarin Red S stained nanoparticles were able to penetrate through the epidermis of the roots or the stomata of the leaves. We observed that the uptake through the roots occurs much faster than through the leaves (1 h vs. 2 days, respectively). Our results highlight the potential of engineering nanoparticles to provide a considerable efficiency of nitrogen uptake by durum wheat and open the door to design more sustainable practices for the fertilization of wheat in fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food Industry)
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Open AccessArticle
Determination of Total Silicon and SiO2 Particles Using an ICP-MS Based Analytical Platform for Toxicokinetic Studies of Synthetic Amorphous Silica
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(5), 888; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10050888 - 06 May 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Synthetic amorphous silica (SAS), manufactured in pyrogenic or precipitated form, is a nanomaterial with a widespread use as food additive (E 551). Oral exposure to SAS results from its use in food and dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals and toothpaste. Recent evidence suggests that oral [...] Read more.
Synthetic amorphous silica (SAS), manufactured in pyrogenic or precipitated form, is a nanomaterial with a widespread use as food additive (E 551). Oral exposure to SAS results from its use in food and dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals and toothpaste. Recent evidence suggests that oral exposure to SAS may pose health risks and highlights the need to address the toxic potential of SAS as affected by the physicochemical characteristics of the different forms of SAS. For this aim, investigating SAS toxicokinetics is of crucial importance and an analytical strategy for such an undertaking is presented. The minimization of silicon background in tissues, control of contamination (including silicon release from equipment), high-throughput sample treatment, elimination of spectral interferences affecting inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) silicon detection, and development of analytical quality control tools are the cornerstones of this strategy. A validated method combining sample digestion with silicon determination by reaction cell ICP-MS is presented. Silica particles are converted to soluble silicon by microwave dissolution with mixtures of HNO3, H2O2 and hydrofluoric acid (HF), whereas interference-free ICP-MS detection of total silicon is achieved by ion-molecule chemistry with limits of detection (LoDs) in the range 0.2–0.5 µg Si g−1 for most tissues. Deposition of particulate SiO2 in tissues is assessed by single particle ICP-MS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food Industry)
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Open AccessArticle
Physicochemical Characterization of the Pristine E171 Food Additive by Standardized and Validated Methods
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(3), 592; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10030592 - 24 Mar 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
E171 (titanium dioxide) is a food additive that has been authorized for use as a food colorant in the European Union. The application of E171 in food has become an issue of debate, since there are indications that it may alter the intestinal [...] Read more.
E171 (titanium dioxide) is a food additive that has been authorized for use as a food colorant in the European Union. The application of E171 in food has become an issue of debate, since there are indications that it may alter the intestinal barrier. This work applied standardized and validated methodologies to characterize representative samples of 15 pristine E171 materials based on transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and single-particle inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (spICP-MS). The evaluation of selected sample preparation protocols allowed identifying and optimizing the critical factors that determine the measurement of the particle size distribution by TEM. By combining optimized sample preparation with method validation, a significant variation in the particle size and shape distributions, the crystallographic structure (rutile versus anatase), and the physicochemical form (pearlescent pigments versus anatase and rutile E171) was demonstrated among the representative samples. These results are important for risk assessment of the E171 food additive and can contribute to the implementation of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) guidance on risk assessment of the application of nanoscience and nanotechnologies in the food and feed chain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food Industry)
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Open AccessArticle
Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles Rescue α-Synuclein-Induced Toxicity in a Yeast Model of Parkinson’s Disease
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(2), 235; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10020235 - 29 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Over the last decades, cerium oxide nanoparticles (CeO2 NPs) have gained great interest due to their potential applications, mainly in the fields of agriculture and biomedicine. Promising effects of CeO2 NPs are recently shown in some neurodegenerative diseases, but the mechanism [...] Read more.
Over the last decades, cerium oxide nanoparticles (CeO2 NPs) have gained great interest due to their potential applications, mainly in the fields of agriculture and biomedicine. Promising effects of CeO2 NPs are recently shown in some neurodegenerative diseases, but the mechanism of action of these NPs in Parkinson’s disease (PD) remains to be investigated. This issue is addressed in the present study by using a yeast model based on the heterologous expression of the human α-synuclein (α-syn), the major component of Lewy bodies, which represent a neuropathological hallmark of PD. We observed that CeO2 NPs strongly reduce α-syn-induced toxicity in a dose-dependent manner. This effect is associated with the inhibition of cytoplasmic α-syn foci accumulation, resulting in plasma membrane localization of α-syn after NP treatment. Moreover, CeO2 NPs counteract the α-syn-induced mitochondrial dysfunction and decrease reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in yeast cells. In vitro binding assay using cell lysates showed that α-syn is adsorbed on the surface of CeO2 NPs, suggesting that these NPs may act as a strong inhibitor of α-syn toxicity not only acting as a radical scavenger, but through a direct interaction with α-syn in vivo. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food Industry)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Zerovalent Iron Nanoparticles on Photosynthesis and Biochemical Adaptation of Soil-Grown Arabidopsis thaliana
Nanomaterials 2019, 9(11), 1543; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano9111543 - 30 Oct 2019
Cited by 9
Abstract
Nanoscale zerovalent iron (nZVI) is the most widely used nanomaterial for environmental remediation. The impacts of nZVI on terrestrial organisms have been recently reported, and in particular, plant growth was promoted by nZVI treatment in various concentrations. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate [...] Read more.
Nanoscale zerovalent iron (nZVI) is the most widely used nanomaterial for environmental remediation. The impacts of nZVI on terrestrial organisms have been recently reported, and in particular, plant growth was promoted by nZVI treatment in various concentrations. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate the detailed physiological and biochemical responses of plants toward nZVI treatment for agricultural application. Here, the effects of nZVI on photosynthesis and related biochemical adaptation of soil-grown Arabidopsis thaliana were examined. After treatment with 500 mg nZVI/kg soil, the plant biomass increased by 38% through enhanced photosynthesis, which was confirmed by the gas-exchange system, carbon isotope ratio and chlorophyll content analysis. Besides, the iron uptake of the plant increased in roots and leaves. The magnetic property measurements and transmission electron microscopy showed that the transformed particles were accumulated in parts of the plant tissues. The accumulation of carbohydrates such as glucose, sucrose and starch increased by the enhanced photosynthesis, and photosynthetic-related inorganic nutrients such as phosphorus, manganese and zinc maintained homeostasis, according to the increased iron uptake. These findings suggest that nZVI has additional or alternative benefits as a nano-fertilizer and a promoter of CO2 uptake in plants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food Industry)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
An Overview of Micro- and Nanoemulsions as Vehicles for Essential Oils: Formulation, Preparation and Stability
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(1), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10010135 - 12 Jan 2020
Cited by 19
Abstract
The interest around essential oils is constantly increasing thanks to their biological properties exploitable in several fields, from pharmaceuticals to food and agriculture. However, their widespread use and marketing are still restricted due to their poor physico-chemical properties; i.e., high volatility, thermal decomposition, [...] Read more.
The interest around essential oils is constantly increasing thanks to their biological properties exploitable in several fields, from pharmaceuticals to food and agriculture. However, their widespread use and marketing are still restricted due to their poor physico-chemical properties; i.e., high volatility, thermal decomposition, low water solubility, and stability issues. At the moment, the most suitable approach to overcome such limitations is based on the development of proper formulation strategies. One of the approaches suggested to achieve this goal is the so-called encapsulation process through the preparation of aqueous nano-dispersions. Among them, micro- and nanoemulsions are the most studied thanks to the ease of formulation, handling and to their manufacturing costs. In this direction, this review intends to offer an overview of the formulation, preparation and stability parameters of micro- and nanoemulsions. Specifically, recent literature has been examined in order to define the most common practices adopted (materials and fabrication methods), highlighting their suitability and effectiveness. Finally, relevant points related to formulations, such as optimization, characterization, stability and safety, not deeply studied or clarified yet, were discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food Industry)
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Open AccessReview
Application of Polyphenol-Loaded Nanoparticles in Food Industry
Nanomaterials 2019, 9(11), 1629; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano9111629 - 16 Nov 2019
Cited by 12
Abstract
Nanotechnology is an emerging field of science, and nanotechnological concepts have been intensively studied for potential applications in the food industry. Nanoparticles (with dimensions ranging from one to several hundred nanometers) have specific characteristics and better functionality, thanks to their size and other [...] Read more.
Nanotechnology is an emerging field of science, and nanotechnological concepts have been intensively studied for potential applications in the food industry. Nanoparticles (with dimensions ranging from one to several hundred nanometers) have specific characteristics and better functionality, thanks to their size and other physicochemical properties. Polyphenols are recognized as active compounds that have several putative beneficial properties, including antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anticancer activity. However, the use of polyphenols as functional food ingredients faces numerous challenges, such as their poor stability, solubility, and bioavailability. These difficulties could be solved relatively easily by the application of encapsulation. The objective of this review is to present the most recent accomplishments in the usage of polyphenol-loaded nanoparticles in food science. Nanoparticles loaded with polyphenols and their applications as active ingredients for improving physicochemical and functional properties of food, or as components of active packaging materials, were critically reviewed. Potential adverse effects of polyphenol-loaded nanomaterials are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food Industry)
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