Using particles that are 1/100,000 the width of a human hair to deliver drugs to cells or assist plants in fighting off pests may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but these scenarios may be a common occurrence in the near future.
Carbon nanotubes, cylindrically shaped carbon molecules with a diameter of about 1 nanometer, have many potential applications in a variety of fields, such as biomedical engineering and medical chemistry. Proteins, nucleic acids, and drugs can be attached to these nanotubes and delivered to cells and organs. Carbon nanotubes can be used to recognize and fight viruses and other pathogens. However, results of studies in animals have also raised concerns about the potential toxicity of nanoparticles.
Recent research by a team of researchers from China, led by Dr. Nan Yao, explored the effects of nanoparticles on plant cells. The findings of Dr. Yao and his colleagues are published in the October issue of the American Journal of Botany (http://www.amjbot.org/cgi/reprint/97/10/1602).
Dr. Yao and his team of researchers isolated cells from rice as well as from the model plant species Arabidopsis. The researchers treated these cells with carbon nanotubes, and then assessed the cells for viability, damage to DNA, and the presence of reactive oxygen species.
The researchers found an increase in levels of the reactive oxygen species hydrogen peroxide. Reactive oxygen species cause oxidative stress to cells, and this stress can result in programmed cell death. Dr. Yao and his colleagues discovered that the effect of carbon nanotubes on cells was dosage dependent—the greater the dose, the greater the likelihood of cell death. In contrast, cells exposed to carbon particles that were not nanotubes did not suffer any ill effects, demonstrating that the size of the nanotubes is a factor in their toxicity.
"Nanotechnology has a large scope of potential applications in the agriculture industry, however, the impact of nanoparticles have rarely been studied in plants," Dr. Yao said. "We found that nanomaterials could induce programmed cell death in plant cells."
Despite the scientists' observations that carbon nanotubes had toxic effects on plant cells, the use of nanotechnology in the agriculture industry still has great promise. The scientists only observed programmed cell death as a temporary response following the injection of the nanotubes and did not observe further changes a day and a half after the nanotube treatments. Also, the researchers did not observe death at the tissue level, which indicates that injecting cells with carbon nanotubes caused only limited injury.
"The current study has provided evidence that certain carbon nanoparticles are not 100% safe and have side effects on plants, suggesting that potential risks of nanotoxicity on plants need to be assessed," Dr. Yao stated. In the future, Dr. Yao and colleagues are interested in investigating whether other types of nanoparticles may also have toxic effects on plant cells. "We would like to create a predictive toxicology model to track nanoparticles."
Only once scientists have critically examined the risks of nanoparticles can they take advantage of the tremendous potential benefits of this new technology.
CITATION: Cong-Xiang Shen, Quan-Fang Zhang, Jian Li, Fang-Cheng Bi, and Nan Yao (2010). Induction of programmed cell death in Arabidopsis and rice by single-wall carbon nanotubes. American Journal of Botany 97(10): 1602-1609. DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1000073
The full article in the link mentioned is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary at http://www.amjbot.org/cgi/reprint/97/10/1602. After this date, reporters may contact Richard Hund at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the article.
The Botanical Society of America (www.botany.org) is a non-profit membership society with a mission to promote botany, the field of basic science dealing with the study and inquiry into the form, function, development, diversity, reproduction, evolution, and uses of plants and their interactions within the biosphere. It has published the American Journal of Botany (www.amjbot.org) for nearly 100 years. In 2009, the Special Libraries Association named the American Journal of Botany one of the Top 10 Most Influential Journals of the Century in the field of Biology and Medicine.
For further information, please contact the AJB staff at email@example.com.
Richard Hund | EurekAlert!
Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences