Nanocarriers should cure grapevine trunks diseases

The funding initiative “Experiment!” of the Volkswagen Foundation (VolkswagenStiftung) supports research at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research about degradable nanocarriers for plant protection.

February 21, 2018

The Volkswagen Foundation (VolkswagenStiftung) has selected the interdisciplinary project “NanoProtect” of Dr Frederik Wurm, head of the Functional Polymers research group at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany for its funding initiative 'Experiment!'. Wurm’s research is focussing on the design and development of degradable polymers and nanocarriers. “NanoProtect” is an innovative collaboration project together with biology partners to fight against plant diseases, which cannot be cured to date. The project is realized by an interdisciplinary consortium of three German institutes including the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research.

Medical drug delivery concept for plants

The NanoProtect project aims to find a cure for the grapevine trunk disease.

Nanocarrier-mediated drug delivery is already used for medical purposes such as cancer treatment, but not yet in plants. Wurm and his team aim to develop polymer nanocarriers to cure plant diseases, especially diseases in grapevine trunks. “Polymer nanocarriers allow us to tailor the release of drugs inside of the wine plant, only if the plant is infected, similar to a vaccination for us”, said scientist Frederik Wurm. A novel approach for a targeted delivery of drugs and biological control agents in agricultural products such as grapevine and apple are currently developed and tested.

The VW Foundation (VolkswagenStiftung) has selected the “NanoProtect” project from more than 500 projects. The research consortium receives funding of 120.000 euros. It comprises the research teams of Dr Frederik Wurm in the department of Professor Katharina Landfester at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, of Dr Jochen Fischer at the Institute for Biotechnology Research in Kaiserslautern and of Dr Andreas Kortekamp at the State Service Center Rheinpfalz for Research, Teaching and Consulting in Viticulture, Horticulture and Rural Development, Institute of Plant Protection in Neustadt.

Text: Kerstin Felix

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