Wounds in plants can be caused by several agents like weather events (hail, wind…), predators (herbivores, insects) or humans (pruning, grafting), among others.
Shceme of the nanocellulose patches with and without silver nanoparticles, and cross section of plant leaf with nanocellulose on top.
The teams lead by Dr. Anna Laromaine at the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC) and by Dr. Núria Sánchez-Coll at the Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) have developed a method for accelerating the healing of these wounds, which is based on the use of a bacterial cellulose polymer.
Bacterial cellulose is a very efficient wound healing material, currently being used in medicine due to its high biocompatibility. The researchers have observed a similar regenerating effect on plants according to studies carried out in different species. The application of the material on the wounds plants improves the formation of new cellular layers and shortens the healing process (in 48 hours or less).
An advantage of this polymer is that its molecular structure is identical to the plant molecular structure. Also, its chemical purity is high. Besides, anti-pathogenic nanoparticles can be added to its structure. The polymer has high porosity, high water absorption capacity and transparency in the UV-NIR.
Dr. Anna Laromaine, from the Group Nanoparticles and Nanocomposites, received on July 2017 a Llavor grant from the the Catalan Government consisting of 20,000 € for her PLANT HEALING project. The Llavor grants are given to support researchers' innovative projects with potential to be incorporated into the market.
PLANT HEALING was awarded by Els Fons Europeus de Desenvolupament Regional i el Departament d’Empresa i Coneixement de la Generalitat de Catalunya (PLANT HEALING 2016 LLAVOR 00052) and will work to offer a novel material that could be implemented in current grafting protocols with no extra time or effort to significantly improve graft efficiency. PLANT HEALING will make an agricultural breakthrough, by developing a new nanocomposite material containing silver nanoparticles linked to bacterial nanocellulose.
The project is also in collaboration with the Group of Bacterial pathogens and plant cell death from the Center for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG).