Foliar application of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) as RNA interference(RNAi)-based biopesticides represents a sustainable alternative to traditional transgenic, breeding or chemical-based crop protection strategies. A key feature of RNAi in plants is its ability to act non-cell autonomously, a process that plays a critical role in plant development and protection against pathogens. However, whether RNAi induced by foliar dsRNA application can act non-cell autonomously remains debated and the potential mechanisms and implications of this movement largely unexplored. We show that upon foliar application, unprocessed full-length dsRNA enters the leaf vasculature and rapidly moves to vegetative, reproductive and below ground tissue types in several model plant and crop hosts. Intact unprocessed dsRNA moves via the apoplast and is functional against both fungi and viral pathogens. Our mechanistic dissection of the uptake and maintained movement of dsRNA provides crucial insights into RNAi biopesticides and stands to add significant benefit to this emerging field of plant protection.

Dr Chris BrosnanDr Chris Brosnan

Chris completed his PhD at the University of Queensland under the guidance of Prof. Bernie Carroll looking at graft-transmissible movement of RNAi. Subsequently he moved to the ETH Zurich supported by both an EMBO long term and Marie Curie incoming postdoctoral fellowship to work on cell-type specific RNA-mediated gene regulation and movement. Upon returning to Australia he worked for a short period of time on the model nematode c.elegans prior to joining the ARC Hub for Sustainable Crop Protection to investigate the movement and mechanisms of RNAi-mediated biopesticide’s.

Dr Chris Brosnan, Research Fellow, Centre for Horticultural Science, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation E: c.brosnan@uq.edu.au

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Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation hosts science seminars across the disciplines of animal, horticulture, crop, food and nutritional sciences.

With a range of speakers from Australia and abroad, the series explores how high-impact science will significantly improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the tropical and sub-tropical food, fibre and agribusiness sectors.

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The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation is a research institute at The University of Queensland supported by the Queensland Government via the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.


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