Nanoparticle Properties Influence Nutrient Transport in Plants

07/08/2019

Tri-color X-ray fluorescence images of lettuce and tomato leaves showing the distribution of cerium (red), zinc (blue), and calcium (green) after 48 hours of hydroponic exposure to cerium oxide nanoparticles with different surface charges. White boxes show where micro X-ray spectroscopy was used to determine the cerium oxidation state, which differed depending upon the charge of the nanoparticles. [Reproduced from Spielman-Sun, E., et al. 2019. “Nanoparticle surface charge influences translocation and leaf distribution in vascular plants with contrasting anatomy.” Environmental Science: Nano, 6, 2508-19. DOI: 10.1039/C9EN00626E from the Royal Society of Chemistry.]

Plant nanobiotechnology promises transformative solutions to the most vexing problems threatening global food security, including drought, disease, and soil nutrient deficiencies. However, the lack of cost-effective methods for delivering nanomaterials to the precise locations where they become active, such as inside vascular tissues or organelles, impedes these technological innovations.

Scientists used X-ray fluorescence microscopy and X-ray absorption spectroscopy to evaluate the influence of nanoparticle surface charge and differences in root structure and vasculature on cerium distribution within plants. They found that both nanoparticle surface chemistry and plant morphology significantly impacted the uptake and distribution of cerium nanoparticles.

The findings not only provide insight into how plant structural features influence nanoparticle behavior but also how surface charge can be tailored for targeted delivery of nutrients to specific plant organs.

References

E. Spielman-Sun, A. Avellan, G.D. Bland, R.V. Tappero, A.S. Acerbo, J.M. Unrine, J.P. Giraldo, G.V. Lowry. “Nanoparticle surface charge influences translocation and leaf distribution in vascular plants with contrasting anatomy.” Environmental Science: Nano, 6, 2508-19 (2019). [DOI: 10.1039/C9EN00626E]