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Crop Biotech Update

RNA-based pesticide, an Environmentally Friendly Alternative in Pre- and Post-harvest Plant Protection

August 15, 2018

The discovery of the ability of sRNAs to travel from the pest or pathogen to the host cell to block the host's ability to fight back allows new possibilities for pre- and post-harvest management in crops. This ability of sRNAs is called "cross-kingdom RNAi". This RNA-based pesticide that works through spray-induced gene silencing (SIGS) is a more environmentally friendly way of protecting crops from pre- and post-harvest pest and pathogen attacks.

This new method was tested as an insecticide and fungicide in plants, and the results were promising. Nanoparticle technology is also being utilized for the successful delivery of sRNAs to the pest or the host for delivery to the pest. Crop loss during post-harvest is 20-25 percent in the USA and up to 50 percent in developing countries. Thus, technologies like SIGS is important to economic development and sustainability.

For more details, read the article in Current Opinion in Plant Biology.