Oral Presentation Science Protecting Plant Health 2017

Host-induced gene silencing: application to control nematode and aphid pests (4434)

Michael GK Jones 1 , John Fosu-Nyarko 1 , Sadia Iqbal 1 , Vineeta Bilgi 1 , Sharmin Rhaman 1 , Fareeha Naz 1
  1. Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA, Australia

Crop plants fail to reach their full yield potential when constrained by biotic or abiotic challenges.  Two groups of plant pests which contribute to substantial reductions in crop yields are plant parasitic nematodes and aphids – both remove plant cell contents via a mouth stylet, and so are amenable to host-induced gene silencing (HIGS).  Target genes for nematode or aphid control must be genes which are vital for plant parasitism or for an aspect of the pest’s life cycle.  In targeting both nematode and aphid pests the approach we have adopted involves RNA seq and comparative genomics to identify candidate target genes, feeding dsRNA of candidate genes to the pests to screen for those which affect some aspect of viability or reproduction, then to generate transgenic plants expressing dsRNA to the priority pest target genes. The results show that a substantial reduction in nematode or aphid reproduction (up to 90%) can be achieved with such transgenic plants.  The target genes identified can also serve as candidates for development of new chemical control agents, or for ectopic delivery of dsRNA without the need to develop transgenic plants.