Cleaning out pollen shells (video)

July 11, 2018

As allergy season intensifies, many people are cursing pollen - the powdery substance released by plants for reproduction. However, pollen may serve a purpose beyond making new plants and triggering sneezes. In ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, researchers report a new method for cleaning out the insides of pollen grains so that the non-allergenic shells can be used to carry medicines or vaccines into the human body. A video of the process is here.

Pollen grains have a tough outer shell that protects the male genetic material from environmental stress. Previously, scientists have explored this sturdy yet biodegradable material for various applications, ranging from drug and vaccine delivery to masking the taste of fish oil. Researchers have even developed a method for cleaning out a particular type of pollen spore, lycopodium, to remove allergens and provide a hollow space that can be filled with the desired material. But the procedure doesn't work for other pollen species. So Harvinder Singh Gill and colleagues at Texas Tech University wanted to develop a simple cleaning method that would work for many types of pollen.

When the team tried the previously developed method on ragweed pollen, they ended up with a clumped-together mess of pollen grains and proteins. However, when they switched the order of two of the steps -- so that they treated the pollen with acid before base -- the resulting pollen shells were hollowed out and unclumped. The new method worked for all types of pollen tested, including ragweed, sunflower, black alder and lamb's quarters.
-end-
The authors acknowledge funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The abstract that accompanies this study is available here.

The American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, is a not-for-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us on Twitter | Facebook

American Chemical Society

Related Pollen Articles from Brightsurf:

Modern computational tools may open a new era for fossil pollen research
By integrating machine-learning technology with high-resolution imaging, scientists are improving the taxonomic resolution of fossil pollen identifications and greatly enhancing the use of pollen data in ecological and evolutionary research.

Efficient pollen identification
From pollen forecasting, honey analysis and climate-related changes in plant-pollinator interactions, analysing pollen plays an important role in many areas of research.

Scientists shed new light on pollen tube growth in plants
New insight on how an enzyme ensures the correct growth of pollen tubes in flowering plants has been published today in the open-access journal eLife.

Fossil pollen record suggests vulnerability to mass extinction ahead
Reduced resilience of plant biomes in North America could be setting the stage for the kind of mass extinctions not seen since the retreat of glaciers and arrival of humans about 13,000 years ago, cautions a new study published August 20 in the journal Global Change Biology.

Researchers explore pollen fertilization mechanisms
A study showing how pollen tubes grow into flowers to reach the ovule paves the way for the improvement of food crop varieties as well as a deeper understanding of the growth of fungi and neurons.

The mystery of pollen sterility and its reversion in pigeon pea revealed in a new study
The Vienna Metabolomics Centre (VIME), University of Vienna, in collaboration with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), based in India has made a breakthrough in pigeonpea by resolving the mystery behind fertility-sterility transition in pigeonpea.

Newly identified gene reduces pollen number of plants
Producing less sperm cells can be advantageous in self-fertilizing plants.

'Bee' thankful for the evolution of pollen
Over 80% of the world's flowering plants must reproduce in order to produce new flowers, according to the US Forest Service.

Spring rains are a surprising source of pollen
Spring rains washes away some pollen, but not all. University of Iowa researchers have found tree pollen fragments can remain airborne for hours after a storm.

Nasal biomarkers predict severity of pollen-specific allergy symptoms
It is not only people with allergies, but also a subgroup of people without one that suffer in spring and have nasal problems from contact with pollen.

Read More: Pollen News and Pollen Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.