Trafficking and Subcellular Localization of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes in Plant Cells

ACS Nano. 2011 Jan 25;5(1):493-9. doi: 10.1021/nn102344t. Epub 2010 Dec 8.


Major barriers to delivery of biomolecules are crossing the cellular membranes and achieving a high cytoplasmic concentration by circumventing entrapment into endosomes and other lytic organelles. Motivated by such aim, we have investigated the capability of multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) to penetrate the cell membrane of plant protoplasts (plant cells made devoid of their cell walls via enzymatic treatment) and studied their internalization mechanism via confocal imaging and TEM techniques. Our results indentified an endosome-escaping uptake mode of MWCNTs by plant protoplasts. Moreover, short MWCNTs (<100 nm) were observed to target specific cellular substructures including the nucleus, plastids, and vacuoles. These findings are expected to have a significant impact on plant cell biology and transformation technologies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Transport
  • Catharanthus / cytology*
  • Catharanthus / metabolism*
  • Catharanthus / ultrastructure
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • Intracellular Space / metabolism*
  • Nanotubes, Carbon*
  • Protoplasts / cytology
  • Protoplasts / metabolism


  • Nanotubes, Carbon