Announcements

Job offersmore »



Tweeting Growers

Top 5 - yesterday

Top 5 - last week

Top 5 - last month

Exchange ratesmore »




'Gene-silencing’ technique is a game-changer for crop protection'

Non-toxic, degradable spray can disable plant's 'bad genes'

Researchers at the University of Surrey and University of Queensland have developed a revolutionary new crop protection technique which offers an environmentally-friendly alternative to genetically-modified crops and chemical pesticides.

The breakthrough research, published in Nature Plants, could have huge benefits for agriculture and positively impact communities around the world. Plant pests and pathogens are estimated to reduce global crop yields by 30 to 40 per cent a year, constraining global food security. At the same time, the need for higher production, regulatory demands, pesticide resistance, and concern about global warming driving the spread of disease all mean there is a growing need for new approaches to crop protection.

The researchers have found that by combining clay nanoparticles with designer ‘RNAs’ (molecules with essential roles in gene biology), it is possible to silence certain genes within plants. The spray they have developed – known as BioClay – has been shown to give plants virus protection for at least 20 days following a single application. When sprayed with BioClay, the plant ‘thinks’ it is being attacked by a disease or pest insect and responds by protecting itself.

The latest research overcomes the instability of ‘naked’ RNAs sprayed on plants, which has previously prevented them from being used effectively for virus protection. By loading the agents on to clay nanoparticles, they do not wash off, enabling them to be released over an extended period of time before degrading.

The BioClay technology, which is based on nanoparticles used in the development of human drug treatments, has a number of advantages over existing chemical-based pesticides. Since BioClay is non-toxic and degradable, there is less risk to the environment and human health. It can also be used in a highly targeted way to protect crops against specific pathogens.

Professor G.Q. Max Lu, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey and co-author of the research paper, said: “This is one of the best examples of nanoparticles being effective for biological molecular delivery with a controlled release rate for combating diseases in plants or animals.  The same nanoparticle technology invented and patented in my laboratory at the University of Queensland was used for effective targeted drug delivery. It was licensed to an Oxford-based pharmaceutical company and is now being commercialised for drug development.”

“I am very pleased to see the exciting results of this project and the publication of our research in the prestigious Nature Plants journal.”  

The research paper, ‘Clay nanosheets for stable delivery of RNA interference as a topical application to protect plants against viruses’ is published in Nature Plants on 10 January 2017.

The research was led by researchers Professor Neena Mitter and Professor Gordon Xu at the University of Queensland in collaboration with Professor Lu of the University of Surrey.

Publication date: 1/11/2017

 


 

Other news in this sector:

4/24/2017 East-West Seed helps Myanmar government improve productivity
4/24/2017 Italian Monsanto research center under attack
4/24/2017 "Monsanto found guilty in fake trial that distracted from real problems"
4/21/2017 Belarus, Serbia to develop cooperation in seed production
4/21/2017 Video: CDFA’s collections of pests, weeds, other organisms help protect our food supply
4/20/2017 India: RR Seeds Agri-Tech to commercialize PAU chilli hybrid
4/20/2017 "Gene editing is about to supercharge agriculture"
4/19/2017 IPPC adopts new global standards
4/18/2017 Newly identified gene offers options for breeding nematode resistant crops
4/18/2017 Gene editing opens doors to seedless fruit
4/18/2017 Lettuce genome assembly published
4/14/2017 New lettuce genome assembly offers clues to success of huge plant family
4/14/2017 Spain: "We rescue tomato varieties that were almost lost"
4/13/2017 Plant Sciences prize awarded to Wageningen graduate
4/13/2017 US (CA): Behind the scenes at the Monsanto greenhouse
4/11/2017 US (FL): Plant scientist explores relationship between plants, health
4/10/2017 Spain: Producers from Murcia get to know the Brutal F1 red tomato
4/10/2017 "International seed standard is good news for U.S. seed industry"
4/10/2017 keyGene is breeding in virtual reality
4/7/2017 Bangladesh: 3 more GMO pest-resistant eggplant varieties