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Nanofertilizers are increasingly explored for sustainable micronutrient delivery in agriculture. Pre-treating seeds with nanofertilizers prior to planting (i.e., seed priming) reduces concerns about nanoparticle (NP) fertilizer non-target dispersion; however, priming formulations and concentrations must be carefully selected to avoid germination inhibition and toxicity. Here we investigate changes in corn seed germination and seedling development after seed priming with ZnO NPs, ZnO bulk and ZnCl2. To evaluate the effects sterile seeds were immersed in priming solutions of 0, 20, 40, 80, 160 mg L−1 Zn for the three Zn sources. Following an 8 h priming the seeds were evaluated for germination and vigor for 5 days on germination paper. Root and shoot lengths were measured as well as fresh and dry biomass. Compared to the control, the ZnO NP and ZnCl2 seed priming promoted beneficial effects. ZnO NP seed-priming exhibited a concentration dependent profile in improving seedling growth, with greatest benefit around 80 mg L−1, providing 17%, 25% and 12% higher values than control for germination, root length, and dry biomass production, respectively. In contrast, seeds primed with bulk ZnO did not differ from the control. These findings support NP-seed priming as an alternative to delivery of essential micronutrients, such as zinc, to corn seedlings.
Esper Neto, M.; Britt, D.W.; Lara, L.M.; Cartwright, A.; dos Santos, R.F.; Inoue, T.T.; Batista, M.A. Initial Development of Corn Seedlings after Seed Priming with Nanoscale Synthetic Zinc Oxide. Agronomy 2020, 10, 307. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020307