A supramolecular hydrogel for spatial-temporal release of auxin to promote plant root growth†
Short peptide-based hydrogels have attracted extensive research interests in drug delivery because of their responsive properties. So far, most drug molecules have been conjugated with short peptides via an amide bond, restricting the release of the native drug molecules. In this study, we demonstrated the effectiveness of an auxin-based hydrogelator linked by a hydrolysable ester bond. Hydrogel I, formed by the gelator (NAA-G′FFY) linked with an ester bond, was able to release 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA), whereas hydrogel II, formed by the gelator without an ester bond (NAA-GFFY), was not. By mixing NAA-G′FFY with Fmoc-GFFY to form a two-component hydrogel, the spatial and temporal release of NAA was achieved, promoting on-site auxin responses including primary root elongation and lateral root formation in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The strategy of using a hydrolysable ester bond to connect drug molecules and self-assembling peptides could lead to the development of supramolecular hydrogels with more controllable drug release profiles.