8321 – Plant Plasma Membrane on a Chip


Invention Summary

A method to create a plant cell membrane on a surface such as a microscope slide that preserves the native membrane constituents for use in plant molecular biology and applied plant science.

Technology Overview

Protein function in a membrane depends on the surrounding lipids and membrane properties. The absence of a means to study these proteins in a plant derived membrane is severely limiting
Currently, there is no platform for in vitro studies of native plant membranes that is compatible with various surface analytical tools and assays
Cornell researchers have developed a method to create a plant cell membrane on a surface that preserves the native membrane constituents such as lipids, proteins, and other native species
This surface can be a flat glass microscope slide, a silicon wafer, a polymer-coated surface, or a microfluidic channel, among others, allowing for studies with a variety of molecular biology tools
Researchers have demonstrated this method with Zea mais (corn), Nicotiana bentamianum (tobacco), and Arabidopsis




  • The platform preserves native membrane constituents found in the plant cell including lipids and proteins
  • The method does not require purifying any species out of the membrane, namely proteins, which can easily denature when reconstituted back into membranes
  • The platform preserves lipid and protein mobility in the two-dimensional plane of the membrane on the chip
  • This approach is compatible with molecular biology tools that allow genetic manipulation of the membrane constituents, such as introduction of mutant proteins, deletion of proteins, addition of exogenous proteins, and so on

Potential Applications:

  • Applied studies of plant molecular biology including pathogen interaction with the membrane and processes that lead to cell infection and disease spread, a screening platform for aspects of plant membrane function and stability, and to create ‘leaf-on-a-chip’ sensors
  • A platform for fundamental plant science research including studying the interactions of plant proteins with lipids, ion channel function and dependence on environmental conditions, and basic biophysical studies of membrane fluidity, stability, heterogeneity, and other mechanical properties as they vary with growth conditions

Contact Information:

Name: Aris Despo

Title :

Department :

Email: add74@cornell.edu

Phone: 607-254-4698

Address :