Date: 05 May 2013

Mesoporous silica nanoparticles as a biomolecule delivery vehicle in plants

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We report the uptake by wheat, lupin and Arabidopsis of mesoporous silica nanoparticles functionalised with amine cross-linked fluorescein isothiocyanate (MSN-APTES-FITC). The preparation of these particles at room temperature enabled the synthesis of 20 nm particles that contained a network of interconnected pores around 2 nm in diameter. The uptake and distribution of these nanoparticles were examined during seed germination, in roots of plants grown in a hydroponic system and in whole leaves and roots of plants via vacuum infiltration. The nanoparticles did not affect seed germination in lupin and there was no phytotoxicity. Following germination of wheat and lupin grown in a nutrient solution containing nanoparticles, they were found within cells and cell walls of the emerging root and in the vascular transport elements, the xylem, and in other associated cells. In leaves and roots of Arabidopsis the nanoparticles were found, following vacuum infiltration of whole seedlings, to be taken up by the entire leaf and they were principally found in the intercellular spaces of the mesophyll but also throughout much of the root system. We propose that MSNs could be used as a novel delivery system for small molecules in plants.