Nav: Home

Antifungal RNA spray could help fight barley crop disease

October 13, 2016

Spraying barley crops with RNA molecules that inhibit fungus growth could help protect the plants against disease, according to a new study published in PLOS Pathogens.

Plant diseases caused by fungi that grow on crops seriously threaten the world's food supply, and fungi can develop resistance to traditional pesticides. To improve the antifungal arsenal, Aline Koch of Justus Liebig University, Germany, and colleagues are investigating RNA-based techniques that fight fungi at the genetic level.

In the new study, Koch's team sprayed a double-stranded RNA molecule called CYP3-dsRNA onto barley leaves and exposed the plants to a common disease-causing fungus known as F. graminearum. When absorbed by fungal cells, CYP3-dsRNA is known to target and silence the expression of three key F. graminearum genes, inhibiting the pathogen's growth.

The scientists found that CYP3-dsRNA inhibited fungus growth on sprayed plants but not on unsprayed plants. The researchers also found reduced F. graminearum growth on leaves that were not directly sprayed with CYP3-dsRNA, suggesting that the plant's vascular system can transport the RNA from sprayed leaves to distant infection sites. Further experiments demonstrated that a fungal protein known as DICER-LIKE 1 is important for CYP3-dsRNA to inhibit growth effectively.

These findings will help inform future research into RNA-based control of plant pathogens. Koch's team had previously shown that barley plants can be genetically modified to produce CYP3-dsRNA themselves. However, scientific and societal obstacles to genetic engineering pose challenges for this technique. Spraying RNA directly onto crops could be a more viable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly alternative.

"The discovery that spraying of small RNAs targeting essential genes of the fungus Fungus graminearum," the authors report, "reduced its plant infection adverts to a new generation of environmentally-friendly fungicides."
In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Pathogens:

Please contact if you would like more information.

Funding: This work was supported by the German Research Council (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) KO1208/23-1 and was supported by grants from the LOEWE program Medical RNomics (State of Hessen; to OR). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: I have read the journal's policy and the fact that the authors VC, JM, and TM are employed by a commercial company BASF Resesarch Triangle Park and BASF Limburgerhof does not alter our adherence to all PLOS Pathogens policies on sharing data and materials.

Citation: Koch A, Biedenkopf D, Furch A, Weber L, Rossbach O, Abdellatef E, et al. (2016) An RNAi-Based Control of Fusarium graminearum Infections Through Spraying of Long dsRNAs Involves a Plant Passage and Is Controlled by the Fungal Silencing Machinery. PLoS Pathog 12(10): e1005901. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1005901


Related Rna Articles:

How RNA formed at the origins of life
A single process for how a group of molecules called nucleotides were made on the early Earth, before life began, has been suggested by a UCL-led team of researchers.
RNA and longevity: Discovering the mechanisms behind aging
Korean researchers suggests that NMD-mediated RNA quality control is critical for longevity in the roundworm called C. elegans, a popularly used animal for aging research.
Don't kill the messenger RNA
Success of new protein-making therapy for hemophilia opens door for treating many other diseases.
RNA modification important for brain function
Researchers at the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have shown that a new way of regulating genes is vital for the activity of the nervous system.
Atlas of the RNA universe takes shape
In the last few years, small snippets of RNA, which may have played a key role in the planet's earliest flickering of life, have been uncovered and examined in great detail.
Punching cancer with RNA knuckles
Researchers achieved an unexpected eye-popping reduction of ovarian cancer during successful tests of targeted nanohydrogel delivery in vivo in mice.
Gatekeeping proteins to aberrant RNA: You shall not pass
Berkeley Lab researchers found that aberrant strands of genetic code have telltale signs that enable gateway proteins to recognize and block them from exiting the nucleus.
Short RNA molecules mapped in single cell
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have measured the absolute numbers of short, non-coding, RNA sequences in individual embryonic stem cells.
Watching RNA fold
New technology takes a nucleotide-resolution snapshot of RNA as it is folding, which could lead to discoveries in biology, gene expression, and disease.
Bacteria: Third RNA binding protein identified
Pathogenic bacteria use small RNA molecules to adapt to their environment.

Related Rna Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#532 A Class Conversation
This week we take a look at the sociology of class. What factors create and impact class? How do we try and study it? How does class play out differently in different countries like the US and the UK? How does it impact the political system? We talk with Daniel Laurison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College and coauthor of the book "The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged", about class and its impacts on people and our systems.