Determining the size exclusion for nanoparticles in citrus leaves

Ed Etxeberria, Pedro Gonzalez, Priyanka Bhattacharya, Parvesh Sharma, Pu-Chun Ke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Implementation of nanotechnology in agriculture is intimately dependent on the capacity of nanoparticles (NPs) to move within the plant body and reach the targeted cells. Although the fibrillar nature of the plant cell wall permits the movement of molecules through its porous matrix (apoplast), the movement of particles through the aqueous apoplastic milieu has its size limitations given the tightly knitted cellulose/hemicellulose fiber structure. In the present study, we used fluorescent NPs of different composition and sizes, and followed their movement into citrus leaves by fluorescent microscopy. Our results indicate that in citrus leaves, the size exclusion limit for NPs is of ≈ 5.4 nm. This conclusion was based on the capacity of PAMAM dendrimers G-4 and G-5 (4.5 and 5.4 nm, respectively) to move through the cell wall and into the phloem, but failure of similar PAMAM dendrimers G-6 (6.7 nm) to move through the apoplast. Dendrimer NPs 5.4 nm and smaller were observed to penetrate the leaf tissue, and then taken up and mobilized by the phloem elements. The current study provides evidence on the size limit for NPs use in agriculture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)732-737
Number of pages6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Apoplastic space
  • Citrus phloem
  • Dendrimer
  • Endocytosis
  • Sieve elements

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