The delivery of agrochemicals is typically achieved by the spraying of fossil-based polymer dispersions, which might accumulate in the soil and increase microplastic pollution. A potentially sustainable alternative is the use of biodegradable nano- or micro-formulations based on biopolymers, which can be degraded selectively by fungal enzymes to release encapsulated agrochemicals. To date, no hemicellulose nanocarriers for drug delivery in plants have been reported. Xylan is a renewable and abundant feedstock occurring naturally in high amounts in hemicellulose - a major component of the plant cell wall. Herein, xylan from corncobs was used to produce the first fungicide-loaded xylan-based nanocarriers by interfacial polyaddition in an inverse miniemulsion using toluene diisocyanate (TDI) as a crosslinking agent. The nanocarriers were redispersed in water and the aqueous dispersions were proven to be active in vitro against several pathogenic fungi, which are responsible for fungal plant diseases in horticulture or agriculture. Besides, empty xylan-based nanocarriers stimulated the growth of fungal mycelium, which indicated the degradation of xylan in the presence of the fungi, and underlined the degradation as a trigger to release a loaded agrochemical. This first example of crosslinked xylan-based nanocarriers expands the library of biodegradable and biobased nanocarriers for agrochemical release and might play a crucial role for future formulations in plant protection.
- emulsion polymerization