Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Use Gene Silencing Technique to Control Parasitic Plants

October 3, 2012

A recent silencing method is believed to be a potential solution for biological control of parasite infection among plants. Scientists from the University of California Davis used RNA interference to silence genes in parasite dodder (Cuscuta pentagona), specifically those which are expressed during the formation of its haustorium, a portion in parasite plant's root that penetrate its host plant's tissues. Researchers particularly examined the development and subsequent establishment of haustorial connections by the dodder on tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) plants.

After the procedure, defects in haustorial connection, development, and establishment were observed which leads to reduced parasite productivity and thus, increased growth of the infected host, tobacco. With these results, the research  demonstrates the effectiveness of RNA–mediated silencing of parasite genes.

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