Coated Nano-ZnO Systemic Delivery System for Controlling Plant Disease

Technology #34041

New system offers improved ability to suppress and prevent HLB disease in citrus trees.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida, the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, and the ICAR-Central Citrus Research Institute have developed a novel cargo delivery system for controlling and preventing diseases in plants, notably Huanglongbing (HLB), a fatal citrus disease with limited commercial control strategies. The non-phytotoxic technology uses coated particles smaller than 10 nanometers (nm) to systemically deliver combinations of cargoes (such as insecticides, bactericides and fungicides) through a plant’s vasculature. The new technology has proven to be effective against Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas)—the bacterium that causes HLB. Due to the increased solubility of the zinc-containing nanoparticles, the invention provides effective transport of cargoes to cross into and move freely throughout a plant’s phloem tissue to fight CLas where it propagates.

Technical Details

The invention comprises a composition and method for making a systemic cargo delivery system of ultra-small nanoparticles (10 nm in size; specifically, 2 nm – 6 nm). Each nanoparticle has a core and a shell (coating). The core contains at least one metal micronutrient (such as ZnO) and at least one cargo, while the shell is made of N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC). Since the particles are created using a one-pot synthesis process, NAC-ZnO production is easily scalable. Growers can implement the system using traditional application methods (foliar, soil-drench).

A wide range of cargoes can be delivered using NAC-ZnO as long as NAC interacts with the cargoes of interest. Cargo examples include:

  • Agrichemical active ingredients (insecticides, bactericides, fungicides)
  • Biomolecules such as proteins, peptides, nucleic acids
  • Systemic Acquired Resistance (SAR) chemicals, antioxidants

Experimental results have shown a decrease in a plant’s CLas population by as much as 97 percent of the initial bacterial load (per 12.5 ng of genomic DNA). Also, regardless of the application used, the delivery system and cargoes appeared in every tissue of the plant.


  • Cost-effective
  • Easily scalable
  • ZnO degrades to Zn ions, leaving behind no nano-residue in the plant
  • Non-phytotoxic
  • Suitable for organic farming
  • Uses traditional application methods


  • Anti-CLas therapeutics
  • Seed/fertilizer coating