Investigation of antifungal response of NiO and copper-doped NiO thin films against Aspergillus niger and Macrophomina phaseolina fungi
Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2021 Aug 16. doi: 10.1007/s11356-021-15945-5. Online ahead of print.
Pure NiO and NiO thin films doped with 0.1 to 25% Cu were grown on pre-heated soda-lime glass substrates via spray pyrolysis technique. The surface roughness of the NiO:Cu thin films decreased as Cu/Ni ratio was increased. Antifungal activity of these thin films against Aspergillus niger (A. niger) which affects some of the fruits, and Macrophomina phaseolina (M. phaseolina) which is a soil borne fungus responsible for the infection of root and lower stem of several plants, was then investigated by bioassay and broth dilution methods. The antifungal response of pure NiO thin film was weak but it improved considerably on doping with copper. The higher the copper content in NiO:Cu thin film, the better was its antifungal response. Moreover, for the given Cu/Ni ratio range of 0-25%, the optical density (OD) of Potato Dextrose (PD) broth inoculated with A. niger and containing NiO:Cu material was reduced or antifungal ability was enhanced by 8.3, 9.9, 11.7, and 13.4 times for the exposure time of 6, 8, 10, and 12 days, respectively. Similarly, the OD of PD broth inoculated with M. phaseolina and containing NiO:Cu material was reduced or antifungal ability was enhanced by 16-37 times in the exposure temperature range of 20-40 °C. A linear relationship of OD with crystallite size and lattice strain of the thin films showed that NiO:Cu material possessed memory of the structural modifications induced by the dopant atoms though its phase changed from crystalline to non-crystalline state. These results can be utilized in agricultural sector. Graphical abstract.