(268c) Award Submission: Carbon Nanotube-Assisted Delivery of Genetic Material into Mature Plants | AIChE

(268c) Award Submission: Carbon Nanotube-Assisted Delivery of Genetic Material into Mature Plants


Demirer, G. S. - Presenter, University of California
Landry, M., Chan Zuckerberg Biohub

In light of population growth and a changing global climate, plants form the core arsenal of sustainability efforts, both at the levels of food availability and environmental remediation. Inevitably, engineering smarter plants will require creation and adoption of emerging technology that can lead to more prolific crops and more robust plants. A crucial first step of any plant bioengineering application is to efficiently deliver biomolecular cargos into plant cells. Since the creation of the first transgenic plants in the 1980s, the primary challenge facing the engineering of plants is the introduction of foreign genes into plant cells through the rigid and multi-layered cell wall that is mostly composed of cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin. Current methods for mature plant transformation are labor- and time-intensive, costly, suitable for only a small number of plant species, and have high toxicity and thus limited practical applicability.1,2 We present a nanomaterial-based plant gene delivery method that can transfer biomolecules into all phenotypes of any plant species with high efficiency. We design nanomaterial formulations that can penetrate the mature plant cell wall and deliver DNA gene vectors into the cytoplasm and nucleus of mature arugula plants. We model the diffusive interactions of our nanoparticle platform in plant tissues. Our results demonstrate an efficient through-cell-wall DNA delivery into mature plant leaves in a passive and species-independent manner with chemically and electrostatically-modified single-walled and multi-walled carbon nanotube gene carriers. Our platform can enable high-throughput parallel testing of plant genetic vectors in mature plants, to rapidly identify genotypes that result in phenotypes of increased plant resistance to drastic changes in climate or crop infections. Moreover, mature plant transformation enables spatial and temporal control over genetic transformation of the plant, which may be useful for crops where a part of the plant, e.g. the leaves, are particularly susceptible to infection and thus may benefit from genetic transformation, while the fruit can remain non-genetically modified.


  1. Potrykus, I. Gene Transfer to Plants: Assessment of Published Approaches and Results. Annual Review of Plant Physiology and Plant Molecular Biology 42, 205-225, doi:10.1146/annurev.pp.42.060191.001225 (1991).
  2. Demirer, G.S., Landry, M.P. Delivering Genes to Plants. AIChE SBE (2017)