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Efficient and Targeted Delivery of Agrochemicals to Phloem Using Nanomaterials

Prof. Juan Pablo Giraldo and his lab at the University of California, Riverside have developed a method for the targeted delivery of nanomaterials to the phloem such as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers using carbon dots with a sucrose-functionalized nanoparticle surface (sucQDs). This technology is advantageous surface functionalization with sucrose enables faster and more efficient foliar delivery of nanoparticles into the plant phloem, a vascular tissue responsible for long-distance transport of sugars from sources (i.e., mature leaves) to sinks (i.e., roots). This technology is available for non-exclusive licensing. Fig 1: Representative images showing the high colocalization of sucQDs with the fluorescent dye that labels phloem cells (in blue). Scale bar = 30 μm

Novel Genetic Switch for Inducing Gene Expression

Prof. Sean Cutler and colleagues at the University of California, Riverside have engineered a system and methods to induce gene expression in plants and organisms, including mammals, using the chemical compound mandipropamid. Using the PYR/PYL/HAB1 promoter system, the PYR1/HAB1 system is reprogrammed to be activiated with mandipropamid.  When the PYR1/HAB1 system dimerizes through chemical induced dimerization (CID) with mandipropamid, the system functions as a control switch for gene expression. This technology has been demonstrated to advantageously accelerate citrus breeding.  It may be applied to improve CAR T-cell therapy and agricultural crops. Fig 1: UCR’s PYR1/HAB1 system is programmed through chemical induced dimerization (CID) initiated by mandipropamid to function as a switch for agrochemical control of gene expression.  

(SD2022-180) Method of viral nanoparticle functionalization for therapy and imaging applications

Plant viral nanoparticles (plant VNPs) are promising biogenetic nanosystems for the delivery of therapeutic, immunotherapeutic, and diagnostic agents. The production of plant VNPs is simple and highly scalable through molecular farming in plants. Some of the important advances in VNP nanotechnology include genetic modification, disassembly/reassembly, and bioconjugation. Although effective, these methods often involve complex and time-consuming multi-step protocols.

Synergistic Enzyme Mixtures to Realize Near-Complete Depolymerization in Blends

In this technology, the inventors introduce additives to purposely change the morphology of polycaprolactone (PCL) by increasing the bending and twisting of crystalline lamellae. These morphological changes immobilize chain-ends preferentially at the crystalline/amorphous interfaces and limit chain-end accessibility by the embedded processive enzyme. This chain end redistribution reduces the polymer-to-monomer conversion from >95% to less than 50%, causing formation of highly crystalline plastic pieces including microplastics. By synergizing both random chain scission and processive depolymerization, it is feasible to navigate morphological changes in polymer/additive blends and to achieve near complete depolymerization. The random scission enzymes in the amorphous domains create new chain ends that are subsequently bound and depolymerized by processive enzymes. Present studies further highlight the importance to consider host polymer morphological effects on the reactions catalyzed by embedded catalytic species.This is part of a patent family in compostable plastics.  

Novel Artificial Vesicle Formulation to Deliver Anti-Fungal Gene Targeting RNAs for Crop Protection

Prof. Hailing Jin and colleagues from the University of California, Riverside have developed novel vesicle formulations to deliver antifungal siRNA as a spray so that crop damage and crop loss is minimized. These vesicle/siRNA formulations are used in Spray-Induced Gene silencing (SIGS) approaches to protect crops and post-harvest plant material from fungal pathogens and other pests. This new formulation is  an eco-friendly, effective, and cost-efficient alternative to traditional pesticides, and offers a way to target specific pathogen genes without the need for generating a GMO crop. Fig 1: External spray application of UCR SIGs (AVs-Bc-DCL1/2-dsRNA) inhibited B. cinerea virulence on tomato fruits, grape berries, lettuce leaves and rose petals compared to the water and control (YFP-dsRNA) (non-specific target sequence) treatments.

Use of Ozone and Infrared Heating as a Pre-treatment for Drying Fruit

Sequential ozone and infrared pre-treatments prior to hot air drying of fruit inactivates enzymes responsible for fruit browning, and concurrently reduces microbial contamination risk and air drying time.

Separation System Using Integrated Microwave-Infrared Technology to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Potential Pathogen Impacts Associated with Cow Manure

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a separation system using microwave-infrared technology to effectively eliminate pathogens and reduce both the moisture content and potential greenhouse gas emissions of cow manure.

Targeted Delivery of Pesticides and Fertilizers in Plants

Prof. Juan Pablo Giraldo and his colleagues from the University of California, Riverside have developed a method for targeted nanoparticle delivery and tracking in plants. Engineered nanomaterial (ENM) platforms that bypass biological barriers in plants such as cell walls, membranes, and organelle envelopes for in vivo traceable and targeted delivery of chemicals to organelles (e.g. chloroplasts) and tissues using guiding peptide recognition motifs.  The use of these targeted platforms result in the reduction of pesticides and fertilizers. Fig 1: Confocal microscopy images of chloroplasts in leaf mesophyll cells (purple) containing targeted nanoparticles and their cargoes (green). Chemicals such as paraquat was precisely delivered to chloroplasts by nanoparticles conjugated with targeting peptides.

Foliar Formulation to Protect Plants from Abiotic Stress

Prof. Juan Pablo Giraldo and his colleagues from the University of California, Riverside have developed a foliar formulation for increasing crop protection and photosynthetic performance when crops are under light, heat, and salinity stress. This is achieved by applying a nanomaterial (poly (acrylic acid) nanoceria, PNC) that interacts with plant chloroplasts to reduce abiotic stress. The nanoparticle formulation uses a novel, scalable and biocompatible approach to protect plant seeds, seedlings, and mature plants from stress.  The emerging field of nano-enabled agriculture has the potential to create crops that are protected from climate change induced stresses and have enhanced photosynthesis.   Fig 1: a, Nanoceria (PNC) increases photosynthesis and biomass in Arabidopsis plants under stress. No nanoparticles (NNP) are shown as control. b, Substantial damage to Arabidopsis plants exposed to excess light was mitigated by PNC.  

Compounds to Treat Citrus Huanglongbing

Prof. Caroline Roper and her colleagues from the University of California, Riverside and Point Loma Nazarene University have identified compounds that may be used to inhibit CLas growth and thereby treat HLB in citrus crops. This technology has the potential to be an economical and effective treatment for HLB infected trees.

Hydrodealkenylative C(Sp3)–C(Sp2) Bond Scission

UCLA researchers in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have developed a new chemical reaction that combines ozone, an iron salt, and a hydrogen atom donor to enable hydrodealkenylative cleavage of C(sp3)–C(sp2) bonds in a widely applicable manner.

Combination Therapy as Enhanced Antidote to Poisoning

Certain pesticides can be harmful, and there is a need for effective antidotes that can reverse accidental over-exposure by farm workers. UC San Diego researchers have recently developed a therapeutic modality that is a combination of compositions that may be effective as an antidote.

Development of an Antidote for Cyanide and Sulfide Poisoning

Cyanide is a rapidly acting poison, which, along with carbon monoxide, is the major cause of death from smoke inhalation. For treating a large number of casulaties in the field, the best mode of treatment would be intramuscular injection of antidote, preferably by an autoinjector. The two treatments currently approved for cyanide poisoning— hydroxocobalamin (Cyanokit) and the combination of sodium nitrite and sodium thiosulfate (Nithiodote)—must be administered by intravenous injection. Thus, no agent currently exists for rapidly treating a large number of cyanide poisoned persons. Another rapidly acting poison similar to cyanide, is hydrogen sulfide. People are exposed to hydrogen sulfide gas in a variety of occupations, most notably wastewater processing, and agriculture and petroleum industries. Up to 30% of oil workers have been exposed to sufficient amounts of hydrogen sulfide to have symptoms, and fatalities are not uncommon. No specific treatment currently exists for sulfide poisoning, and treatment consists of general supportive care.

Early Diagnosis and Treatment for Citrus Greening Disease

University of California, Riverside researcher, Prof. Hailing Jin, has shown that several citrus small RNAs are induced upon infection by Candidatius Liberibacter asiaticus (Las).  These miRNAs and siRNAs would enable the early diagnosis of HLB in citrus trees and nursery stocks.  In addition to the identification of the miRNA biomarker, Prof. Jin also discovered that treating Las infected trees with phosphorus oxyanion improved fruit production.  These studies of the improvement in yield in HLB infected citrus was demonstrated in a 3-year field trial in Florida.  Fig. 1 shows the relative expression levels of miRNA399 in HLB infected citrus. Infected trees express high levels of miRNA 399. Fig. 2 shows leaves from trees that did or did not receive phosphorus oxyanion treatment over a one year period. Leaves treated with phosphorus oxyanion are healthier than leaves from untreated trees.

Cyanide, Sulfide, Methane-Thiol Antidote

Cyanide is a highly toxic agent that inhibits mitochondrial cytochrome-c oxidase, thereby depleting cellular ATP. Cyanide exposure contributes to smoke inhalation deaths in fires and could be used as a weapon of mass destruction. Cobalamin (vitamin B12) binds cyanide with a relatively high affinity and is used to treat smoke inhalation victims. Cobinamide, the penultimate compound in cobalamin biosynthesis, binds cyanide with about 1010 greater affinity than cobalamin and is 5-10 times more potent than cobalamin in rescuing animals from cyanide poisoning. Cobinamide is also an effective intra- and extracellular nitric oxide scavenger. Currently, three cyanide antidotes are currently available in the United States: nitrites, thiosulfate, and hydroxocobalamin. All three drugs are approved only for intravenous (IV) administration, and thus are not suitable for treating mass casualties as could occur after a major industrial accident or a terrorist attack. Thus, new formulations for cyanide exposure treatment that are faster and easier to administer are needed.

At-Nozzle Injection of Agrochemicals

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed a direct, at-nozzle system for directly mixing and dispensing a carrier fluid with additives.

A Therapeutic Bandage For Treating Venom-Induced Tissue Necrosis

Snakebites affect 4.5 million people a year. Treatments that could save victim’s lives require capable medical facilities, which are not always within reach. Researchers at UCI have developed a therapeutic bandage for treating the tissue necrosis associated with snake bites. The invention can be applied in the field and has the potential to save many lives.

Xylosyl-Xylitol Oligomers And Their Microbial And Enzymatic Productions

Lignocellulosic biomass derived from plant cell walls is the most abundant raw material for biofuels and renewable chemicals production.  Hemicellulose comprises about 30% of the total weight of lignocellulosic biomass. In contrast to cellulose, hemicellulose components are readily depolymerized into short oligomers and released into the liquid phase during pretreatment.  It is of great interest to convert the released hemicellulose components into fuels or other value-add chemicals for building an economical biomass conversion process. There are ten times more microorganisms than human cells in a healthy adult.  The symbiosis between the microbiome and human organs is increasingly recognized as a major player in health and well-being.  Xylooligosaccharides and xylitol, both derived from hemicellulose, can benefit gut flora and oral flora, respectively. Xylooligosaccharides (XOS, also called xylodextrins) are naturally occurring oligosaccharides, found in bamboo shoots, fruits, vegetables, milk and honey.  Industrial scale production of XOS can be carried out with much less expensive lignocellulosic materials by hydrothermal treatment or enzymatic hydrolysis.  A broad range of applications of XOS have been demonstrated, including as functional food, prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal infections, animal feed for fish and poultry, agricultural yield enhancer and ripening agent, and as active agents against osteoporosis, pruritus cutaneous, otitis, and skin and hair disorders.  In the current market, the most important applications of XOS correspond to ingredients for functional foods as a prebiotic, or formulated as synbiotics. XOS has been shown to promote beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium adolescentis growth in vitro and in vivo.  It has been estimated that the prebiotics market will reach $4.8 billion by 2018. Xylitol is another hemicellulose-derived compound beneficial to human health.  For many bacteria and yeasts, the uptake of non-utilizable xylitol interferes with hexose utilization, which helps the human body to rebuild a healthy microbiome.  Xylitol has been used to prevent middle ear infections and tooth decay.  In addition, xylitol possesses 33% fewer calories but similar sweetness compared to sucrose and has been widely used as a substitute sweetener.  While chemical hydrogenation of xylose remains the major industrial method of xylitol production, microbial fermentation has become more popular in the newly built plants due to lower conversion cost. There exists a need for improved methods of producing xylooligosaccharides and related compounds, such as xylooligosaccharides with xylitol components.    UC researchers discovered a new set of fungal metabolic intermediates, named xylosyl-xylitol oligomers and developed the enzymatic and microbial fermentation method to produce such compounds. The detection and purification methods have also been developed.

Enhanced Cell/Bead Encapsulation Via Acoustic Focusing

The invention consists of a multi-channel, droplet-generating microfluidic device with a strategically placed feature.The feature vibrates in order to counteract particle-trapping micro-vortices formed within the device.Counteracting these vortices allows for single particle encapsulation in the droplets formed by the device and thereby makes this technology a good candidate for use in single cell diagnostics and drug delivery systems.

Novel Molluscicide

  Background: Slugs and snails are among the most problematic invasive agricultural and horticultural pests. They cause crop loss, reduce crop yield and quality, cause product shipment rejection, and transmit plant and human pathogens. The most commonly used chemical molluscicides are toxic to pets and other organisms. These chemical pesticides are also harmful to the environment, are not cost effective, and with variable effficacy that is highly influenced by environmental conditions such as moisture.   Brief Description: UCR researchers have developed a novel potential biopesticide that targets slugs and snails using the recently discovered US strain of the nematode species Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita. The European strain of this nematode (Nemaslug ®) is being used to successfully manage slugs and snails in Europe. Recent surveys show that consumers in the US are willing to pay more for a more effective and environmentally safe pest management alternative for these invasive gastropods. Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita (singly or in combination with P. californica or P. papillosa) can be used effectively to manage slug and snail infestations, notably European brown garden snail (Cornu aspersum), Giant African land snail (Lissachatina fulica), gray field slug (Deroceras reticulatum) and greenhouse slug (Lehmannia valentiana).  

Compound that Regulates Brassinosteroid Response

Background: Brassinosteroids are essential plant hormones that control growth and development, in addition to playing a critical role in response to stress and infections. Brassinosteroids also induce ethylene synthesis and are therefore related to senescence and ripening. The major overarching issue involves strictly controlling brassinosteroid response in order to promote growth yet limit other negative effects of brassinosteroids.  Brief Description: UCR researchers have identified three compounds that alter brassinosteroid signaling in plants. These chemicals were found to increase the effects of limited brassinosteroids found under normal conditions yet reduce the effects of excess brassinosteroids. This includes promotive effects on plant height, which increase by 100% due to the chemical enhancing the impact of endogenous brassinosteroids. In contrast, the extreme effects seen with addition of high levels of brassinosteroids are substantially reduced upon addition of this chemical, indicating that this chemical may be useful for modulating the effects of brassinosteroids. In conjunction with this, treatment with the chemical resulted in reversal of several ethylene dependent growth phenomena that are also regulated by brassinosteroids. Currently, there is a huge unmet need in the agricultural sector since treatments that modulate brassinosteroid-regulated phenomena do not exist.

Development Of Pheromone-Assisted Techniques To Improve Efficacy Of Insecticide Baits Targeting Urban Pest And Species

Background: The pest control industry incurs an estimated $1.7B in damages every year. Current pest management techniques result in insecticide runoff and environmental contamination, which calls for improved bait technologies. Since most urban pests of interest use pheromones for organization and coordination of their colonies, many researchers have explored the possibility of using synthetic trail pheromones as an alternative strategy to mitigate this issue.   Brief Description: UCR Researchers have developed insecticidal baits that use highly target-specific control technologies. This novel pheromone-assisted technique (PAT) has little impact on the environment and non-target organisms. By combining the attractant pheromone of ants and existing bait matrices, they increased discovery and consumption of the baits by foraging ants, thus maximizing efficacy of the baits applied. Moreover, they have produced significant results at extremely low concentrations of the pheromone-assisted bait in comparison to the ones that are currently being used.

Novel Synthesis of 2,5- Dimethylfuran from 5- (Chloromethyl)furfural

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have developed an efficient synthesis of 2,5- dimethylfuran (DMF) from 5- (chloromethyl)furfural (CMF).

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