India, a nation renowned for its diverse culture, and rich heritage, is also widely recognized as an agricultural country at its core. With a significant portion of its population engaged in farming, agriculture plays a vital role in the country's economy and sustenance. However, this sector is not without its challenges, farmers face numerous issues that impact their livelihoods and the nation's food security. One of the foremost challenges faced by farmers today is the relentless threat posed by pests. Pests, ranging from insects to rodents, can ruin crops, leading to substantial yield losses and economic distress for farmers. The battle against pests necessitates the use of pesticides, which not only add to the cultivation costs but also raise concerns about their impact on the environment and human health. In recent times, another emerging problem that has captured attention is the presence of microplastics in agricultural soils. Microplastics, tiny fragments of plastic materials, find their way into the soil through various sources, including improper waste disposal and the breakdown of larger plastic items. These minute particles have the potential to disrupt soil health, affecting its fertility and overall productivity. The infiltration of microplastics into the food chain through crops is also a matter of concern for human health. As India continues to navigate its agricultural landscape, addressing these challenges becomes crucial not only for the welfare of its farmers but also for ensuring a resilient and secure food supply for its burgeoning population.


Chemical pesticides and microplastics in agricultural land pose significant environmental and health concerns. Chemical pesticides, which are widely used in modern agriculture to protect crops from pests and diseases, often leach into soil and water, contaminating them and harming non-target organisms, including beneficial insects, birds, and aquatic life. Additionally, pesticide residues can accumulate in food crops, potentially exposing consumers to harmful chemicals, which can lead to health issues over time. Moreover, the excessive use of pesticides can lead to the development of pesticide-resistant pests, creating a cycle that requires even more potent chemicals to control them, further escalating environmental problems.

pest_1 pest_2 pest_3

Microplastics can originate from a variety of sources, including plastic mulch films, degraded plastic waste, and synthetic fibers from clothing. When microplastics enter agricultural land, they can alter soil properties, disrupt soil ecosystems, and potentially impact crop health and productivity. These particles can also absorb and transport harmful chemicals, further contaminating the environment. The combination of chemical pesticides and microplastics in agricultural land represents a double whammy for the environment and human health. Microplastics could serve as carriers for pesticide residues, facilitating their transport into deeper soil layers or water bodies and increasing the risk of contamination.

Newspaper gif

Furthermore, the presence of both chemical pesticides and microplastics underscores the need for more sustainable agricultural practices and the development of safer alternatives to protect crops and maintain soil health, all while minimizing the ecological footprint of agriculture. Addressing these interconnected issues requires a multidisciplinary approach that considers the environmental, social, and economic aspects of agricultural production.

Current Solutions

Some current IPM methods include biological control, which is the introduction or enhancement of natural predators, parasites, or pathogens that can help control pest populations, and crop rotation, in which farmers change the type of crops planted in a specific field seasonally, disrupting the life cycles of pests that target specific crops. However, these IPM methods may not always be as effective as desired for several reasons, such as resistance and economic constraints. Regarding microplastic pollution in agricultural fields, most farmers do not have an awareness of microplastics and their ill effects, and there are no available methods to tackle microplastic pollution in agricultural fields.

Our Project

The SVCE-CHENNAI 2023 team's objectives are to reduce pest activity and remove plastic from agricultural land and water. We increase the yield of our crops by doing this. Additionally, the biomagnetic effect of plastic should be diminished by degradation. To achieve this, we are engineering a biopesticide that effectively solves both problems using genetic engineering and synthetic biology techniques. To address both of these issues with a single solution, we have adopted the following strategy: “A bacteria that can kill pests and degrade microplastics”


  • Kumar, M., Xiong, X., He, M., Tsang, D.C., Gupta, J., Khan, E., Harrad, S., Hou, D., Ok, Y.S. and Bolan, N.S., 2020. Microplastics as pollutants in agricultural soils. Environmental Pollution, 265, p.114980.
  • Sayyed, A.H., Crickmore, N. and Wright, D.J., 2001. Cyt1Aa from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis is toxic to the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella, and synergizes the activity of Cry1Ac towards a resistant strain. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 67(12), pp.5859-5861.
  • Ulmer, B., Gillott, C., Woods, D. and Erlandson, M., 2002. Diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.), feeding and oviposition preferences on glossy and waxy Brassica rapa(L.) lines. Crop protection, 21(4), pp.327-331.
  • Bravo, A., Gill, S.S. and Soberón, M., 2007. Mode of action of Bacillus thuringiensis Cry and Cyt toxins and their potential for insect control. Toxicon, 49(4), pp.423-435.
  • Takei, D., Washio, K. and Morikawa, M., 2008. Identification of alkane hydroxylase genes in Rhodococcus sp. strain TMP2 that degrades a branched alkane. Biotechnology letters, 30, pp.1447-1452.
  • El Ghachtouli, N., Joutey, N.T., Bahafid, W. and Sayel, H., 2013. Biodegradation: Involved Microorganisms and Genetically Engineered Microorganisms. Chapters.