Protein coating composition targets nanoparticles to leaf stomata and trichomes†
Plant nanobiotechnology has the potential to revolutionize agriculture. However, the lack of effective methods to deliver nanoparticles (NPs) to the precise locations in plants where they are needed impedes these technological innovations. Here, model gold nanoparticles (AuNP) were coated with citrate, bovine serum albumin (BSA) as a protein control, or LM6-M, an antibody with an affinity for functional groups unique to stomata on leaf surfaces to deliver the AuNPs to stomata. One-month-old Vicia faba leaves were exposed via drop deposition to aqueous suspensions of LM6-M-coated AuNPs and allowed to air dry. After rinsing, Au distribution on the leaf surface was investigated by enhanced dark-field microscopy and X-ray fluorescence mapping. While citrate-coated AuNPs randomly covered the plant leaves, LM6M-AuNPs strongly adhered to the stomata and remained on the leaf surface after rinsing, and BSA-AuNPs specifically targeted trichome hairs. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first report of active targeting of live leaf structures using NPs coated with molecular recognition molecules. This proof-of-concept study provides a strategy for future targeted nanopesticide delivery research.