Biotech Updates

Gene Silencing to Boost Agricultural Yields

May 15, 2013

Murdoch University researchers have developed an environmentally friendly gene silencing method to control Root Lesion Nematodes, plant pathogens known to reduce yields of major crops such as wheat and barley by 15 percent or more. Professor Mike Jones of Murdoch University's Plant Biotechnology Research Group, said the microscopic, worm-like pests were an economic drain on agriculture as they invade and damage plant roots, making the plants susceptible to water and nutrient stress.

He said that their team worked to block the formation of proteins needed for nematodes to complete their life cycles. Their gene silencing work presents a new, environmentally sound approach to control the nematode pests and boost agricultural yields without the need for expensive chemicals.

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