Monday, April 17, 2017

Using RNA interference in corn to prevent fungal aflatoxin production

A major economic problem and health concern of the world is the harmful effect of fungi on the agricultural production of food. Fungi can destroy crops in the field or food during storage/shipment. Great effort is made to control this including the use of biocontrols, strict storage methods, and fungicides with decreasing efficiency. Recent work attempts to suppress aflatoxin production in certain fungi (aspergillus strains) with genetic technology. The research involves RNA interference in corn to control the production of aflatoxins in two aspergillus strains. RNA interference is an important natural process that helps defend against foreign invaders in a cell through the production of micro-RNAs or siRNAs (short interfering). The micro-RNA or siRNA binds to target messenger RNA sequences and prevents translation into protein. This has been used as a tool to induce gene silencing and has helped advance genetic understanding. In this study, transgenic corn has been produced using RNA interference that prevents the production of a certain protein in the biosynthetic pathway of aflatoxin production. It is possible that this is an effective way to prevent aspergillus harm to crops and increase global food security. It must be noted that this may stop fungal aflatoxin production in living crops but airtight storage must be coupled with this strategy in order to prevent fungal contamination in food being stored/shipped.


Pop news article:

RNA interference:

Aflatoxin info (end of video discusses a different biocontrol):

1 comment:

  1. Hopefully the research conducted in these studies can help with the challenges the banana we all know and love is currently facing. It is important to keep in mind that the whole crop is currently facing the issues related to fungal infections and it is imperative to find a change to be made. The RNA interference is allocating protection of the actual crop and it's defense mechanism and hopefully manipulation can be understood in the typical banana crop.