Targeted transport of active substances means healthy vines
The Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, in cooperation with the Institut für Biotechnologie und Wirkstoff-Forschung (IBWF), has developed a technology that can treat the fungal attack of the esca fungus with a targeted nanoparticle delivery of active substances.
Vines are often afflicted by fungi. The esca fungus in particular has become increasingly prevalent in Germany in the last 20 years. Approximately 40% of vines are affected by this fungus, which destroys the wood and can cause the vines to wither away. Up until now, there have been no effective countermeasures. Winegrowers therefore need to check their plants regularly to identify the attack at an early stage and ultimately to remove the affected vines and burn them.
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The technology, for which a patent has been filed, uses the biopolymer lignin. This is a natural component of many plants. It is stored in cell walls and causes lignification of the cell. The scientists prepared nano-sized lignin particles (300 nm) and encapsulated a fungicide in them to tackle the esca fungus. The lignin particles are injected into the vine, where they circulate freely. The fungicide is only released when the fungus attacks the plant and degrades the wood or lignin. The fungus dies off itself in this way. The Institute’s research results show that the treated vines survive the esca fungus. The procedure also offers another advantage: due to the size of the lignin particles, transport within the plant is limited. It means that no fungicide manages to reach the grapes. Max Planck Innovation is looking for a licensing partner to further develop this promising technology.
Keywordsesca, fungus, vine, drug delivery
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