Plant gene delivery via carbon nanotubes

May 16, 2022

Enabling efficient genetic modification of plant mitochondria

A collaborative research group of the RIKEN CSRS, Kyoto University, Utsunomiya University, and Kyushu University developed a technique to efficiently deliver genes into mitochondria in plant cells using carbon nanotubes coated with functional peptides as carriers.

Plants are expected to work as biological factories that produce valuable materials such as medicines and biofuels. However, to fulfill this expectation, the current genetic modification technology to transform plant traits has some challenges, such as the limitation of usable plant species and the low modification rate due to hard cell walls. In particular, no one has achieved alteration of mitochondrial genes responsible for generating compounds and energy.

In this study, the collaborative group developed a technique to deliver genes into mitochondria in plant cells using carbon nanotubes as carriers and successfully modified genes in plant mitochondria. The group also demonstrated that root growth increased in the plant in which mitochondrial genes were modified.

Applying these findings to genetic modification technology to improve various plants, including crops, would help create modified plant species with resistance to the environment and increase crop yields.

Original article
Nature Communications doi:10.1038/s41467-022-30185-y
S. S. Y. Law, G. Liou, Y. Nagai, J. G. Dejoz, A. Tateishi, K. Tsuchiya, Y. Kodama, T. Fujigaya, K. Numata,
"Polymer-coated carbon nanotube hybrids with functional peptides for gene delivery into plant mitochondria".
Simon Law; Postdoctoral Researcher
Kosuke Tsuchiya; Visiting Scientist
Keiji Numata; Team Leader
Biomacromolecules Research Team