Nanoparticles Positively Impact Wheat and Barley Seed Germination

Wheat and barley are widely cultivated cereals across the globe. The application of nanotechnology could enhance the yield of these crops, thereby helping meet the global demand for food supply. In an article recently published in the journal Materials Today: Proceedings, the effect of iron oxide (Fe3O4) nanoparticles on the germination rate and growth of barley and wheat seeds was studied.

Nanoparticles Positively Impact Wheat and Barley Seed Germination

Study: Impact of Fe3O4 nanoparticles on wheat and barley seeds germination and early growth. Image Credit: Nitr/

Magnetic Fe3O4 nanoparticles were synthesized via a chemical co-precipitation technique. Characterization of Fe3O4 nanoparticles using field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), X-Ray diffraction (XRD), and transmission electron microscope (TEM) revealed that these nanoparticles were spherical in shape with a size range between 20 to 30 nanometers.

The Fe3O4 nanoparticles in different concentrations were applied to barley and wheat genotypes in suspension form at the seedling stage. The results revealed that treating barley and wheat seedlings with Fe3O4 nanoparticles positively impacted seed germination and showed longer root and coleoptile lengths along with higher germination rates.

Application of Nanoparticles on Wheat and Barley Cultivation

Nanoparticles are utilized in various sectors, including industry, medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology. The application of nanoparticles in agriculture could improve the yield, crop growth, and product quality by facilitating pest management, fertilization, and improved soil nutrition. Additionally, the impact of nanoparticles depends on the plant species, nanoparticle type, and physical properties.

In the cultivation of wheat and barley, seed germination is the critical stage, influenced by moisture availability, genetic traits, environmental conditions, and soil quality. To this end, preliminary research conducted to explore the potential of nanoparticles in wheat and barley cultivation demonstrated a positive impact of nanoparticles in seed germination, plant growth, and development.

Although iron nanoparticles are naturally available in nature, these nanoparticles become highly unstable and reactive in the presence of oxygen. Metal-based Fe3O4 nanoparticles serve as an iron source supporting siderophores biosynthesis in wheat and barley, resulting in improved growth.

Previous reports mentioned that iron activates the enzyme in RNA synthesis and improves the biological process of photosynthesis. Due to the lack of information on the effect of Fe3O4 nanoparticle's toxicity, it is essential to conduct laboratory studies to determine the suitable dose of Fe3O4 nanoparticles on wheat and barley plants. As a result, scientists can understand soil nutrition and build knowledge of wheat and barley plant's biochemical and biomolecular reaction on exposure to nanoparticles.

Several nanoparticles have been explored to understand their impact on various crop species. However, the effect of Fe3O4 nanoparticles on germination and growth of barley and wheat remains practically unexplored. Hence, this study aimed to investigate the impact of Fe3O4 nanoparticles on barley and wheat genotypes of the Caucasus region.

Fe3O4 Nanoparticles Toward Accelerated Germination

In the present study, the effect of Fe3O4 nanoparticles on barley and wheat germination was studied, and the T-test results revealed a germination rate of 0.05%. Here, the germination process began with the observation of water and the seeds exposed to Fe3O4 nanoparticles showed enhanced germination compared to a control.

Varying concentrations of Fe3O4 nanoparticles on either side of the seed coat improved the water absorption via osmosis and consequently enhanced the water consumption leading to accelerated germination of seed. Thus, exposing the wheat and barley seeds to 100 milligrams per liter dose of Fe3O4 nanoparticles resulted in an average germination rate of 87% and 96% in barley and wheat, respectively. However, the control seed showed lower germination rates of 61% and 84% in barley and wheat, respectively.

Furthermore, a high concentration of Fe3O4 nanoparticles reduced plant growth due to the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by the nanoparticles. To this end, previous studies hypothesized that the presence of higher concentrations of ROS could negatively impact plant growth. However, ROS in lower concentrations can reduce the biotic stress effect, thereby enhancing the growth of plants.

The effect of Fe3O4 nanoparticles on the barley and wheat seed germination was studied based on their germination percentage. The results showed that, while nanoparticle's dose of 100 milligrams per liter significantly increased the seed germination, their dose at 250 and 1000 milligrams per liter on barley and wheat seeds showed reduced germination percentage. However, these germination percentages were comparatively greater than the control.


To summarize, the Fe3O4 nanoparticles with a 20 to 30 nanometers diameter range were prepared via chemical co-precipitation technique, and these nanoparticles were utilized in barley and wheat genotypes. The experimental studies conducted to assess the possible impact of Fe3O4 nanoparticles on barley and wheat germination and growth revealed that these nanoparticles could promote barley and wheat germination even in low concentrations. However, the effect of the Fe3O4 nanoparticles was found to be more on barley than wheat.


Serpoush, M., Kiyasatfar, M., Ojaghi, J. (2022). Impact of Fe3O4 nanoparticles on wheat and barley seeds germination and early growth. Materials Today: Proceedings

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Bhavna Kaveti

Written by

Bhavna Kaveti

Bhavna Kaveti is a science writer based in Hyderabad, India. She has a Masters in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from Vellore Institute of Technology, India, and a Ph.D. in Organic and Medicinal Chemistry from Universidad de Guanajuato, Mexico. Her research work involved designing and synthesizing heterocycle-based bioactive molecules, where she had exposure to both multistep and multicomponent synthesis. During her doctoral studies, she worked on synthesizing various linked and fused heterocycle-based peptidomimetic molecules that are anticipated to have a bioactive potential for further functionalization. While working on her thesis and research papers, she explored her passion for scientific writing and communications.


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