by Estonian Research Council
The harmfulness of pesticides to beneficial organisms is one of the most serious concerns in agriculture. Therefore scientists are eagerly looking for new, more environmentally friendly and species-specific solutions. Researchers at the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Ghent and the University of Maastricht took a long step forward in this regard.
The detrimental impact of pesticides on non-target organisms is one of the most urgent concerns in current agriculture. Double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) represent the most species-specific class of pesticides to date, potentially allowing control of a target pest without effecting other species. The unprecedented target-specificity of dsRNA is due to its nucleotide sequence-specific mode of action that results in post-transcriptional gene silencing, or RNA interference (RNAi), in the target species. The development and field use of dsRNAs, via both the insertion of transgenes into the plant genome and the application of dsRNA sprays, is a rapidly growing area of research. Simultaneously, there exists the growing prospect of harnessing RNAi within integrated pest management schemes.