Positive results obtained from soil treated with TiO2 nanoparticles

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles (NPs) are the most widely used nanomaterials, and their increased use raises questions about their potential influence on the soil environment. A recent paper submitted to the journal Chemosphere evaluated the possible effects of low-dose TiO2 nanoparticles on the biochemical characteristics of the soil.

Study: Interaction of TiO2 nanoparticles with soil: effect on microbiological and chemical traits. Image Credit: Piyaset/Shutterstock.com

Impact of nanoparticles on the rhizosphere

The rhizosphere is a bioactive environment consisting of a thin layer of soil adhering to the surfaces of the root system in the unsaturated zone of the subsoil. The rhizosphere is home to a large number of valuable microbes, and the interactions between bacteria and plant surfaces are crucial for the proper functioning of nutrient cycles.

The integrity of the rhizosphere is essential for plant development, and any external agent that interferes with the functioning of the rhizosphere can affect plant growth. Nanoparticles absorbed from various sources can have a profound influence on the form and function of soil microbial communities.

What are Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) Nanoparticles?

Titanium dioxide nanoparticles are particles with a size of less than 100 nanometers, used in a wide range of advanced applications, including photoconductive construction, photochemical decomposition of contaminants, water filtration, biomedical sensors and drug delivery systems.

Agricultural nanotechnology applications of TiO2 nanoparticles as a non-nutritive fertilizing agent are still in their infancy. Previous research has confirmed that TiO2 nanoparticles have a dual influence on soil microbial communities, ie both beneficial and harmful effects. As a result, the impact of TiO2 nanoparticles on soil biochemical properties should be properly explored.

Importance of soil microorganisms

Soil microorganisms are essential regulators of soil biochemical processes. By affecting soil moisture status, total suspended solids, total oxygen consumption, electrical properties, soil enzyme activity and accessible organic fertilizers, the presence of titanium dioxide nanoparticles on measurement in soil can influence bacterial diversity and community functioning.

The influence of TiO2 nanoparticles on soil microbial populations, plant development and nutrient uptake has already been documented. A few studies have also shown that the treatment of TiO2 nanoparticles influence the supply of nutrients to the soil. However, these studies do not present a comprehensive methodology to assess the effect of low concentrations of TiO2 nanoparticle processing.

Effect of low TiO concentrations2 Nanoparticles on soil chemistry

In this study, researchers focused on the impact of low doses (up to 20 mg/L) of TiO2 nanoparticles on the chemical and biological attributes of cultivated mung bean soil. To understand the impact of NP treatment, several biochemical, microbial and enzymatic soil variables were examined at different time intervals.

In addition, a quantitative reverse transcription polymer chain reaction (RT-PCR) investigation was conducted to determine proportional changes in gene expression related to N processing in soil ammonia-oxidizing bacteria and nitrogen fixers.

Important Study Findings

The researchers found that the application of TiO2 nanoparticles in small doses improved the chemical characteristics and availability of soil nutrients. Increase in nutrient availability through application of TiO2 nanoparticles resulted in increased nutrient uptake by plants. In addition, treatment with TiO2 nanoparticles at low concentrations (up to 10.0 mg/L) enhanced soil microbial activity and enzyme concentration.

Quantitative RT-PCR analysis demonstrated that reverse transcription of ammonia oxidants was incompatible with cell viability of ammonia oxidants. The increase in fold change could be due to the presence of non-culturable and unfavorable bacteria in the soil.

A correlation study of several soil components revealed a positive correlation between protease and urease production. Protease is a digestive enzyme that helps break down protein complexes into amino acids.

Future outlook

The results of the study indicate that TiO2 NPs can enhance nitrogen recycling in the rhizosphere soil. In addition, NPs stimulate ammonia oxidants in the soil. Thus, the treatment of TiO2 NPs at low concentrations can improve overall soil quality, and their regulated use as nanonutrient fertilizers for crop development has significant potential for future applications.


Kaur, H., Kalia, A., Sandhu, JS, Dheri, GS, Kaur, G. & Pathania, S. (2022). Interaction of TiO2 nanoparticles with soil: effect on microbiological and chemical traits. Chemosphere: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0045653522011225?via%3Dihub

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