Targeted Drug Delivery for Sustainable Crop Protection: Transport and Stability of Polymeric Nanocarriers in Plants

Sebastian J. Beckers, Alexander H. J. Staal, Christine Rosenauer, Mangala Srinivas, Katharina Landfester, Frederik R. Wurm*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


Spraying of agrochemicals (pesticides, fertilizers) causes environmental pollution on a million-ton scale. A sustainable alternative is target-specific, on-demand drug delivery by polymeric nanocarriers. Trunk injections of aqueous nanocarrier dispersions can overcome the biological size barriers of roots and leaves and allow distributing the nanocarriers through the plant. To date, the fate of polymeric nanocarriers inside a plant is widely unknown. Here, the in planta conditions in grapevine plants are simulated and the colloidal stability of a systematic series of nanocarriers composed of polystyrene (well-defined model) and biodegradable lignin and polylactic-co-glycolic acid by a combination of different techniques is studied. Despite the adsorption of carbohydrates and other biomolecules onto the nanocarriers’ surface, they remain colloidally stable after incubation in biological fluids (wood sap), suggesting a potential transport via the xylem. The transport is tracked by fluorine- and ruthenium-labeled nanocarriers inside of grapevines by 19F-magnetic resonance imaging or induced coupled plasma – optical emission spectroscopy. Both methods show that the nanocarriers are transported inside of the plant and proved to be powerful tools to localize nanomaterials in plants. This study provides essential information to design nanocarriers for agrochemical delivery in plants to sustainable crop protection.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2100067
JournalAdvanced science
Issue number11
Early online date19 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2021


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • drug delivery
  • miniemulsion
  • nanocarriers
  • plant protection
  • agrochemical


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