All genetic information in living organisms is encoded in DNA (a double stranded helix of polynucleotides), while the expression of individual genes is regulated by a messenger RNA (mRNA, a single stranded polynucleotide molecule). RNA directly regulates the protein-making machinery in a cell. RNA interference (RNAi) is a means of reducing or switching-off the expression of individual genes, often described as ‘gene silencing’. This gene silencing approach is being used to “switch off” the genes responsible for the survival and spread of pests, pathogens and diseases.
CropVax are developing a technology that facilitates the delivery of these ‘next generation plant vaccines.’
How Does it Work
RNAi is a natural process which is enabled by a double-stranded form of RNA (dsRNA). dsRNA activates biochemical machinery that degrades messenger RNA molecules (mRNA) carrying a genetic code matching that of the dsRNA. When such mRNA molecules are ‘interfered with’ and degraded, the corresponding gene is effectively silenced and no protein from that gene is made. This causes the pest/ pathogen that comes into contact with the RNAi to die.
What are the Benefits to a Farmer / Agronomist
Reduced reliance upon traditional chemical applications which are showing increased resistance and are increasingly difficult to get to market.
The RNAi biocontrol is also very selective so that it only affects the target pest(s). It is then broken down in the environment and does not affect the plant.