North Carolina State University is currently seeking an industry partner to further develop and commercialize a novel plant virus and non-woven fiber nanotechnology delivery system for nematicides and other small molecules critical for plant development. A PCT application has been filed for this invention.
Plant parasitic nematodes are one of the world’s major agricultural pests, causing in excess of $125 billion in worldwide crop damage annually. The traditional way to combat nematode infestations is with potentially toxic, environmentally dangerous, and difficult-to-handle nematicides. The majority of these are contact and fumigant pesticides that are either heavily restricted or eliminated entirely for use in the United States due to their high toxicity. Given the toxicity and severe limitations of these agents, there is a need for new methods and delivery systems for treating plants with nematicides.
Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a plant-virus-based, small molecule delivery system for the controlled delivery of nematicides. This delivery system comprises nematicide-loaded plant viral nanoparticles combined with tailored seed coating formulations. Encapsulation of nematicides by the plant viral nanoparticles will eliminate non-target adverse effects, and incorporation into seed coatings is a more economical and environmentally-friendly delivery mechanism than granular nematicide applications. In addition, the coating formulation can be tailored for controlled release based on biodegradation rate in the soil, making the system adaptable to enable delivery of active ingredients to nematodes during the critical early growth stage of plants.
This plant-virus-based, small molecule delivery system can also be used for the controlled delivery of a wide range of other small molecules critical for plant development, including other pest repellants, nutrients, and hormones. This nanotechnology delivery system has the ideal attributes for agricultural application: it is robust and viable in a wide range of environments; it is stable in buffers, the soil, and physiological fluids; it has low leakage rates for small molecule cargo; it presents targeting molecules conveniently; and it can be triggered to release cargo specifically inside a targeted cell.
- Eliminates non-target adverse effects through encapsulation of nematicides by plant viral nanoparticles.
- Loading of active agents into plant viral nanoparticles is repeatable and scalable.
- Economical and environmentally friendly relative to current nematicide control technologies.
- Can be tailored for controlled time release of nematicide during necessary treatment windows.
- Enhanced cargo capacity and colloidal stability in solution compared to other nano-scale delivery vehicle strategies.
- Less leakage than other nano-scale delivery vehicle strategies.
About The Inventors
Dr. Steven Lommel is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University. Dr. Lommel received his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests include plant virology, plant viral pathogenesis, virus structure, and virus nanotechnology.
Dr. Julie Willoughby is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry, and Science in the College of Textiles at North Carolina State University. Dr. Willoughby received her Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from North Carolina State University. Her research interests include nanosciences, surface modification, fibers and polymers; technical textiles and textile structure; and health and safety.
Mr. Richard Guenther is a Research Technician in the Department of Plant Pathology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University. He received his B.S. in Geology from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.