"Band-Aids" to heal the wounds of your plants

Plants can be injured by climatic factors such as winds and hail, predator bites, pruning, etc. These wounds are an open channel for the entry of diseases, so it is important to heal them.

These wounds in the epidermis and deeper layers of plants are a gateway to many microbial pathogens that can cause serious diseases, causing dramatic crop losses for farmers and damage to our garden plants.

A team of researchers, led by Anna Laromaine from the Barcelona Institute of Materials Science (ICMAB-CSIC) and Nuria Sánchez Coll from the Center for Research in Agrigenomics (CRAG) has developed a material to avoid contamination and accelerate the healing of these plant wounds . This solution is based on the use of a patch based on a nanocomposite made of bacterial cellulose and silver nanoparticles.

Bacterial cellulose is a material that allows wound healing very efficiently. It is currently used in medicine thanks to its high biocompatibility. An advantage of this biopolymer is that its molecular structure it is similar to vegetable cellulose, one of the main structural components of plants. In addition, thanks to its high water retention capacity, it acquires a consistency similar to a hydrogel, increasing its adhesion to the leaves of the plant. The healing properties of bacterial cellulose have already been patented before.

Currently, the efficacy and efficiency of pesticides used to combat crop infections still face many challenges. With the aim of improving them, the ICMAB-CRAG team has anchored silver nanoparticles, with antipathogenic properties, to the structure of bacterial cellulose. The hybrid dressing developed by Laromaine and Sánchez Coll prevents the detachment of the nanoparticles of bacterial cellulose, offering a slow release and an effective use of the effects of pesticides.

Hybrid dressings better than pesticides

"Our hybrid dressings are surely safer for the environment than currently used pesticides based on liquid dispersions of silver compounds or nanoparticles", explains Anna Laromaine, researcher at ICMAB-CSIC. "Although the price of these materials is not yet comparable to the products that are currently used, they could find a niche in the market in high value acquired applications", comments Nuria Sanchez Coll, scientist at CRAG.

Bacterial cellulose is a material that allows wound healing very efficiently. It is currently used in medicine thanks to its high biocompatibility.

The study has been published in the journal ACS Biomaterials S&C within the framework of the European Plant Healing project. The objective is to offer a new material to be implemented in current graft protocols, without extra time or effort, significantly improving graft efficiency.

Bibliographic reference:

Alejandro Alonso-Díaz, Jordi Floriach-Clark, Judit Fuentes, Montserrat Capellades, Núria S. Coll, Anna Laromaine. "Enhancing Localized Pesticide Action through Plant Foliage by Silver-Cellulose Hybrid Patches." ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng., 2019, 5 (2), pp 413–419. DOI: 10.1021 / acsbiomaterials.8b01171

Plant Healing is a “LLavor” project granted by the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) and the Department of Business and Knowledge of the Government of Catalonia (PLANT HEALING 2016 LLAVOR 00052). According to its members, this project will represent an advance in the agricultural field, through the development of a new nanocomposite material with silver nanoparticles anchored to bacterial nanocellulose. The study is funded by the Severo Ochoa Excellence project of the ICMAB-CSIC and CRAG and by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities.

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