Biotech Updates

Improving Tobacco Tolerance Against Peach Potato Aphid Using Plant-mediated RNAi

January 29, 2014

Plant-mediated RNA interference (RNAi) is a technique used by scientists to block gene functions using short sequences of RNA matching the target gene's sequence thus impeding the production of proteins. This technique has been used to battle agricultural insect pests. Chinese Academy and Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) researchers Jianjun Mao and Fanrong Zeng investigated the effect of RNAi in controlling peach potato aphid (Myzus persicae), a multi-host pest predominant in many areas globally. The researchers cloned the gap gene hunchback (hb) which is crucial in insect axial patterning. Plant RNAi vector was constructed and transgenic tobacco expressing Mphb dhRNA was developed.

Transgenic tobacco exhibited a different integration pattern of the transgene. Bioassays were conducted through application of newborn aphids to homozygous transgenic plants in the T2 generation. Results showed that continuous feeding of transgenic diet reduced Mphb mRNA level in the fed aphids and impeded insect reproduction. The results indicate successful silencing of the target gene in peach potato aphid using plant-mediated RNAi.

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