Call for SR&TD Project Grants - 2017
Biopesticides and Food Preservatives from Nanoencapsulated Plant Extracts: Biological Evaluation, Molecular Modelling and Synthesis
Maria do Sameiro Torres Gonçalves
Universidade do Minho
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Chemical Sciences
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Overuse of agrochemicals (namely pesticides) and also food preservatives have drawn particular attention as they pollute the environment and may pose a danger to living beings. Nanotechnology is a recent approach that is becoming increasingly important for delivering conventional pesticides and their safe application. Nano-pesticides or plant protection products in nano formulations represent an emerging technological development that could offer increased efficacy, durability, and a reduction in the amounts of required active ingredients.
Owing to these facts, the main goal of the present proposal is the nanoencapsulation of components extracted from selected plants, which possesses biological activity to act as green pesticides and food preservatives. Different nanoencapsulation materials will be used, such as chitosan-based nanostructures and liposomes-type systems. Studies to understand the compatibility between the active components and nanoencapsulation materials as well as the nanoencapsulation mechanism of pesticide formulations will be carried out. It is intended to obtain systems that can present slow-releasing properties with enhanced solubility, permeability, and stability of the pesticides, to allow the protection of the encapsulated active ingredients from premature degradation and increase their pest control efficacy for longer periods.
The evaluation of the biological potential, namely antimicrobial, acaricide and insecticidal activities, as well as the toxicity (mutagenicity, genotoxicity), pivotal for assessing the potential impact upon human health, will be carried out before and after nanoencapsulation of the extracts. Based on biological activity results and also directed by molecular dynamics simulations, aiming to improve the biological properties of the natural components, a synthetic research work will be performed in order to introduce structural modifications in the natural substrates and further use them as lead compounds in the design of other bioactive molecules.
Overall, it is expected that this project contributes to the emerging challenge related to sustainable food production faced by agriculture worldwide, along with the environmental protection and living beings by the development of nanoencapsulated biopesticides and food preservatives that can be alternative to existing compounds/formulations and application methodologies.
The project results from a strong collaboration between the UMinho through CQ-UM and CF-UM research centres and UPorto, by REQUIMTE through LQAV and UCIBIO research centres. The UMinho will produce the nanoencapsulated extracts to be biologically evaluated at UPorto. As a result UPorto will conducted molecular modelling studies to predict a series of most promising compounds, which will be synthesised at UMinho and tested for biological activity at UPorto. At the end of the project, it is expected to obtain new biopesticides and food preservatives to be part of green formulations.
Biopesticidas e conservantes alimentaresExtratos nanoencapsulados de plantasSíntese de produtos naturaisFormulações verdes
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