New paper SPC research group

Targeted drug delivery for sustainable crop protection: Transport and stability of polymeric nanocarriers in plantsSebastian J. Beckers, Alexander H. J. Staal, Christine Rosenauer, Mangala Srinivas, Katharina Landfester,  Frederik R. Wurm*

Advanced Science 2021, 2100067,

The spraying of agrochemicals (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.) causes environmental pollution on a million-ton scale. A sustainable alternative is the target-specific and on-demand drug delivery by polymeric nanocarriers., e.g. releasing agrochemicals in planta after trunk injection.  A trunk injection of aqueous nanocarrier dispersions can overcome the biological size barriers of roots and leaves and allows the distribution of the nanocarriers through the vascular tissue of the plant. The new publication by Beckers et al. investigates the transport of a diverse library of polymeric nanocarriers in vitro and in planta rendering drug delivery in plants with nanocarriers a promising tool for future agriculture. If designed correctly, nanocarriers did not aggregate when incubated in the extracts of grapevine, apple, or peach. To visualize the transport in living plants, we used Riesling cuttings or young potted Riesling plants. We developed two techniques based on elemental mapping (by ICP-OES) after sacrificing the plant or by non-invasive imaging using by 19F MRI. Chemical composition, size, surface charge, or surfactant of the nanocarriers were varied systematically and in all cases, transport through the vascular tissue of our test plants was detected. Polymeric nano- and microcarriers are a versatile strategy to develop targeted drug delivery inside of plants and will allow the development of sustainable delivery of agrochemicals in the future.