Biotech Updates

RNAi Pesticides Could Be the Next Big Tool in Agriculture

December 16, 2020

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Scientists at the University of Arizona led by Professor Bruce Tabashnik have developed a new biotech tool using RNA interference (RNAi) to produce pesticides that target specific pests in the field.

The scientists developed RNAi-based pesticides to silence nucleotide sequences responsible for making proteins necessary for the development of target pests. RNAi targets the protein production of insects. It uses double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) in blocking the usual function of messenger RNA on sending out instructions to make proteins.

The pesticide is projected to be a cheaper alternative because of the low-cost production of dsRNA due to the efforts of biotech companies. Using RNAi-based pesticides is different from conventional pesticides as it only targets certain insects making it more environmentally-friendly.

Furthermore, Prof. Tabashnik suggests the use of integrated pest management to prevent insect resistance by using different methods such as crop rotation, traditional small-molecule synthetic pesticides, and biopesticides in controlling pests. Integrated pest management is still the most effective tool for reducing pest resistance. "Optimize the available technology to create the strongest method possible with RNAi being the core of that," said Prof. Tabashnik.

For more details, read the article in PNAS.

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