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Nanoparticle-fortified beans

Nanoparticles formed of a magnetic mineral may be used to increase iron concentration in bean leaves. A team of Brazilian and Cuban researchers irrigated bean plants with a solution of water and different concentrations of particles of magnetite (Fe3O4), an iron oxide, whose diameter averaged 10 nanometers. Magnetization measurements were taken in the soil and from three dried plant organs: roots, stems, and leaves. The magnetite concentration in the leaves of the plants that were grown under this regimen was two to three times higher than in plants irrigated with pure water. “We’re now going to take measurements on the bean itself – the part of the plant that people eat,” says Renato de Figueiredo Jardim, from the USP Physics Institute (IF-USP). No toxicity was found during plant growth. The researchers believe that it will be possible to promote planting with nanoparticles in regions where people consume iron-poor diets.