• photothermal method;
  • photoacoustics;
  • flow cytometry;
  • scanning cytometry;
  • imaging;
  • plants;
  • tomato;
  • nanotechnology


In vivo flow cytometry has facilitated advances in the ultrasensitive detection of tumor cells, bacteria, nanoparticles, dyes, and other normal and abnormal objects directly in blood and lymph circulatory systems. Here, we propose in vivo plant flow cytometry for the real-time noninvasive study of nanomaterial transport in xylem and phloem plant vascular systems. As a proof of this concept, we demonstrate in vivo real-time photoacoustic monitoring of quantum dot-carbon nanotube conjugates uptake by roots and spreading through stem to leaves in a tomato plant. In addition, in vivo scanning cytometry using multimodal photoacoustic, photothermal, and fluorescent detection schematics provided multiplex detection and identification of nanoparticles accumulated in plant leaves in the presence of intensive absorption, scattering, and autofluorescent backgrounds. The use of a portable fiber-based photoacoustic flow cytometer for studies of plant vasculature was demonstrated. These integrated cytometry modalities using both endogenous and exogenous contrast agents have a potential to open new avenues of in vivo study of the nutrients, products of photosynthesis and metabolism, nanoparticles, infectious agents, and other objects transported through plant vasculature. © 2011 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry