Viability of plant spore exine capsules for microencapsulation

Sylvain Barrier, Alberto Diego-Taboada, Matthew J. Thomasson, Leigh Madden, Joanna C. Pointon, Jay D. Wadhawan, Stephen T. Beckett, Stephen Atkin, Grahame MacKenzie

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Sporopollenin exine capsules (SECs) (outer exoskeletal wall of the spores of Lycopodium clavatum) were extracted and examined for their potential use as microcapsules. They were shown, by laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM), to be void of their inner contents. The removal of nitrogenous and other internal materials was supported by a combination of elemental and gravimetric analyses. Two different methods were investigated to encapsulate substances into SECs which were (i) mild passive migration of materials into the SECs and (ii) subjecting SECs and materials to a vacuum. A range of fluorescent dyes with different polarities were seen using LSCM to encapsulate efficiently into the SECs (up to 1 g.g-1). Relatively unstable materials with different polarities were encapsulated into the SECs: polyunsaturated oils, which are labile to oxidation, and the enzymes streptavidin-horseradish peroxidase (sHRP) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP). Irrespective of the encapsulation techniques employed no oxidation of the oils or denaturation of the enzymes was observed following their full recovery. This study gives the first indication of the viability of SECs to microencapsulate various potentially unstable materials without causing a detrimental effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-981
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Chemistry

Cite this

Barrier, S., Diego-Taboada, A., Thomasson, M. J., Madden, L., Pointon, J. C., Wadhawan, J. D., Beckett, S. T., Atkin, S., & MacKenzie, G. (2011). Viability of plant spore exine capsules for microencapsulation. Journal of Materials Chemistry, 21(4), 975-981.