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Sustainable Bioinspired Wax Coating for Multi-Functional Crop Protection

Project description

Protecting crops by mimicking natural wax crystals

Wax crystals are small and can be found on the cuticles of some plants, particularly superhydrophobic plants like lotus and broccoli. Taking inspiration from these plants, the EU-funded SafeWax project will use bio-derived non-toxic fatty acid-based formulations to create a protective coating with anti-adhesive, self-cleaning and antifungal properties. This innovative technology aims to reduce the overuse and misuse of chemical fungicides, which have devastating implications for the environment and the global economy. SafeWax coating will initially be demonstrated on grapevine, which is susceptible to fungal diseases. Apart from protecting crops from fungal infections, the biodegradable coating will prevent sun damage and facilitate water collection from dew condensation, mitigating the effects of climate change.


According to the FAO, plant diseases cost the global economy around 210€ billion per year, and fungal pathogens destroy at least a third of all food crops annually. Commercial agriculture relies on chemical fungicides for crop protection owing to their easy application and low cost; however, their overuse and misuse have devastating implications for all living systems and the entire ecosystem. Thus, establishing sustainable crop protection strategies is essential for global economic development, environmental protection, and food security.

Inspired by superhydrophobic plants, such as lotus and broccoli which exhibit wax crystals on their cuticles, we propose a generic sustainable strategy for passive crop protection against fungal pathogens. Our biomimetic technology, termed SafeWax, relies on bio-derived non-toxic fatty acid-based sprayable formulations which self-assemble into a multifaceted protective coating with anti-adhesive, self-cleaning and antifungal properties. When applied on sensitive crops, which do not naturally exhibit wax crystals, SafeWax will synthetically render their foliage to passively resist pathogens. SafeWax concepts will initially be demonstrated on grapevine, as a relevant model crop of high importance to Europe’s economy, environment and culture, which is highly susceptible to fungal diseases and is the most-frequently treated crop. SafeWax will then be expanded to other sensitive commodity crops. The biodegradable SafeWax coating will not only protect crops from fungal infections but will also be tuned to provide UV radiation filtering, prevent sun damage, as well as facilitate water collection from dew condensation, mitigating inevitable effects of climate change.

SafeWax will revolutionize the global fungicides market (valued > 20 billion €), starting from the biofungicide market with a value of 3,2 billion € by 2025.


Net EU contribution
€ 1 460 672,50
32000 Haifa

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 460 672,50

Participants (4)