Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are at the forefront of cutting edge research in a variety of fields. In recent years, they have attracted the attention of plant biologists as potential molecular transporters, due to their intrinsic ability to cross the cell membrane of different types of mammalian cells as drug and gene delivery vehicles.
In this review, Maged Serag and collaborators from Saudi Arabia, Japan and France discuss the ability of single-walled CNTs (SWCNTs), multi-walled CNTs (MWCNTs) and cup-stacked CNTs (CSCNTs) to penetrate through plant cell walls, target specific organelles, probe protein-carrier activity and induce organelle recycling in plant cells. For example, they show that subcellular localisation of CNTs is strongly dependent on the length of the CNTs and the nature of the functional tag adsorbed onto the outer surface. The property is particularly important for plant biotechnology and agricultural scenarios where payloads could potentially be delivered to specific subcellular organelles.
The potential of CNTs to cross plant cell walls for various, specific purposes could open up an enormous array of applications in the fields of plant biotechnology and agricultural biology from the entire plant level down to the cellular and molecular level.
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Nanobiotechnology meets plant cell biology: carbon nanotubes as organelle targeting nanocarriers, Maged F. Serag, Noritada Kaji, Satoshi Habuchi, Alberto Bianco and Yoshinobu Baba, RSC Adv., 2013, DOI: 10.1039/C2RA22766E
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