Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials as Plant Biostimulants

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Jan 4;20(1):162. doi: 10.3390/ijms20010162.


Biostimulants are materials that when applied in small amounts are capable of promoting plant growth. Nanoparticles (NPs) and nanomaterials (NMs) can be considered as biostimulants since, in specific ranges of concentration, generally in small levels, they increase plant growth. Pristine NPs and NMs have a high density of surface charges capable of unspecific interactions with the surface charges of the cell walls and membranes of plant cells. In the same way, functionalized NPs and NMs, and the NPs and NMs with a corona formed after the exposition to natural fluids such as water, soil solution, or the interior of organisms, present a high density of surface charges that interact with specific charged groups in cell surfaces. The magnitude of the interaction will depend on the materials adhered to the corona, but high-density charges located in a small volume cause an intense interaction capable of disturbing the density of surface charges of cell walls and membranes. The electrostatic disturbance can have an impact on the electrical potentials of the outer and inner surfaces, as well as on the transmembrane electrical potential, modifying the activity of the integral proteins of the membranes. The extension of the cellular response can range from biostimulation to cell death and will depend on the concentration, size, and the characteristics of the corona.

Keywords: biostimulation; corona; elicitors; growth promoters; hormesis; nutritional quality; stress tolerance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium
  • Copper / metabolism
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism
  • Nanoparticles*
  • Nanostructures*
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Protein Corona / metabolism
  • Static Electricity
  • Titanium / metabolism


  • Protein Corona
  • titanium dioxide
  • Copper
  • Titanium