SLU news

Naga Charan Konakalla receives royal award for research on nano carriers for targeted pesticide delivery

Published: 14 June 2024
A man in a library. Photo.

Naga Charan Konakalla has been awarded a prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf's 50-year fund for science, technology and the environment, for his work on virus-like proteins as nano carriers for targeted pesticide delivery. Naga received the prize from the hands of King Carl XVI Gustaf, including a scholarship of 100 000 SEK, at a ceremony on June 10 at the Royal Castle in Stockholm.

Synthetic fungicides are widely used in modern Swedish agriculture as well as around the world to eradicate fungal diseases. The current methods used to apply them are ineffective require large doses at the same time costing billions of dollars to farmers.

– An important aspect of Naga Charan's work is to use of bio-nanoparticles engineered from harmless plant virus proteins to precisely target and deliver fungicides and biological substances against plant pathogens, says Ramesh Vetukuri who is the leader of the research group that Naga Charan works in.

Naga Charan will use this grant to develop a new approach to engineer a Noda virus (shrimp virus) capsid protein for delivering double-stranded RNA molecules targeted to silence the Oomycete Phytophthora infestans, the causal agent of potato late blight disease in potato plants.

Safer pesticides

The project includes a longer study visit to the Center for Nanoscience, University of California with Professor Nicole Steinmetz, a pioneer in this research field. The project's approach is extremely innovative and has great potential to eventually give Swedish farmers access to safer pesticides that are significantly more effective than today's agrochemicals.

– Naga Charan has made a remarkably inspiring journey in terms of research since his arrival to Sweden. His research on these molecular delivery vehicles will affect the design and development of next-generation pesticides, concludes Ramesh.


Naga Charan Konakalla completed his Masters’ degree in Virology in India and came to Europe in 2014 and has pursued his Ph.D. research at the Agricultural University of Athens, Greece, and KU Leuven, Belgium with Erasmus Mundus doctoral Scholarship. He moved to Sweden to work at Campus Alnarp in 2020 with Carl Tryggers Scholarship. Year 2023 Naga Charan got the FORMAS Early Career Research Grant (Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Agriculture) to understand the fundamental questions of how to turn viruses into potent pesticide/ fungicide delivery vehicles.