Juan Pablo GIRALDO


  • Institution:
    University of California
  • Scientific competencies:
    University of California Material Science and Engineering, Cell Molecular and Developmental Biology, Microbiology


After receiving his Ph.D. in plant biology from Harvard University in 2011, Dr. Juan Pablo Giraldo worked as an NSF postdoctoral fellow on plant nanobiotechnology at MIT. Since 2015 the Giraldo Lab at the University of California, Riverside works at the interface between plant biology and nanotechnology. Nanomaterials have unique optical, electronic, and chemical properties that have been widely exploited in biomedical research, but their use in plant biology research and agriculture remain largely unexplored. His lab aims to develop nanoparticle-based research tools to study and engineer plant function at levels of organization ranging from organelles to tissues and whole plants.


Plant health monitoring and targeted delivery of agrochemicals using nanotechnology

Plant nanobiotechnology is enabling nanosensors that communicate with electronic devices for monitoring plant health and nanoscale platforms for targeted delivery of agrochemicals to improve resource use efficiency. Near-infrared (nIR) fluorescent nanosensors interfaced with plant leaves can report hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), a key signaling molecule associated with the onset of plant stress. The sensor nIR fluorescence response (>900 nm) is quenched by H2O2 with selectivity against other stress-associated signaling molecules and is within the plant physiological range. These optical nanosensors report early signs of stress providing novel tools for precision agriculture, and the optimization of agrochemical use in the environment. Efficient agrochemical delivery in plants poses another major challenge for avoiding significant economic losses and environmental pollution. Nanoscale platforms can target and deliver nanomaterials with chemicals to plant photosynthetic and nutrient assimilation organelles (chloroplasts) using guiding plant biomolecule recognition motifs. Nanoparticle functionalization with β-cyclodextrin molecular baskets enables loading and delivery of diverse chemicals, and a nanoparticle coating with a rationally designed and conserved guiding peptide efficiently targets their delivery with chemical cargoes to chloroplasts. Nano-enabled agriculture is emerging as a novel and complementary approach for optimizing the use of agrochemicals in the environment and meet the food demands of a rapidly growing population.