Insecticidal trap plants incorporating RNA interference technology
Donly, C., Kaplanoglu, E., Ludba, K., Kolotilin, I., Menassa, R., Scott, I. (2017) Insecticidal trap plants incorporating RNA interference technology. Insect Biotech Conference, St. Catharines, Ontario. 14-16 June 2017, oral presentation.
RNA interference (RNAi) holds immense promise as a potential crop protection tool. In recent years, numerous demonstrations of the effectiveness of this system in providing insect protection for crop species from cotton to corn and potato have emerged. These have taken two forms: through external application where double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) is applied either with a spray-on or soak approach, or conversely, the dsRNA is produced within the plant after transformation of the genome. The first option is beset by the high cost of production of the dsRNA necessary, and the second is challenged by lingering suspicions on the part of consumers regarding genetically modified crops. Our intention is to deploy the highly efficient strategy of genetic modification to achieve RNAi, but to do so in trap plants designed to attract pests away from crops destined for market. This will result in death of the pest insects while avoiding any stigma of modification in the products for human consumption. Several strategies for implementing dsRNA production are possible and the resulting fit with different pest classes will be discussed. Optimal matching of strategy and pest will ultimately be necessary for this novel IPM tool to be efficiently applied in crop protection.