US scientists are using nanotechnology to penetrate plant cell walls and deliver a gene and a chemical triggers with great precision. The work could lead to a powerful new tool for targeted delivery into plant cells.
The research is highlighted in the May issue of Nature Nanotechnology. Kan Wang of Iowa State University and his colleagues point out that introducing a gene into a plant cell is possible but chemical activation usuall involves an imprecise and separate process that may be toxic to the plant.
“With the mesoporous nanoparticles, we can deliver two biogenic species at the same time,” Wang said. “We can bring in a gene and induce it in a controlled manner at the same time and at the same location. That’s never been done before.”
The controlled release will improve the ability to study gene function in plants. And in the future, scientists could use the new technology to deliver imaging agents or chemicals inside cell walls. This would provide plant biologists with a window into intracellular events.
Lin’s porous, silica nanosphere system has arrays of independent porous channels, which form a honeycomb-like structure that can be filled with chemicals. “One gram of this kind of material can have a total surface area of a football field, making it possible to carry a large payload,” Trewyn said.