Bio Fungicide Dec 21

Bio Fungicide Dec 21

Mike Stephens
Mike Stephens
News Reporter
For California Ag Today, I’m Mike Stephens

Soybean study utilizes more effective & less toxic bio-fungicide

Researchers used non-toxic dsRNA molecules to manage fungal plant disease.

Fungal diseases of plants are normally managed through the application of fungicides, which are not only toxic to the pathogens that cause these diseases but to other organisms, including humans, animals, and the environment, especially after long and repeated applications. A recent article summarizes an attempt to use dsRNA molecules, which are non-toxic by themselves and present in all living organisms, to manage fungal plant diseases.

“Our research explores the potential of using dsRNA molecules (similar to the mRNA molecules used in the Pfizer and Modern vaccines) as bio-fungicides for managing fungal diseases of plants,” explained Chen, a plant pathologist at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. “DsRNAs are not toxic to non-targeted organisms or harmful to the environment. They carry species-specific genetic information that makes them toxic only to the targeted pathogens.”

As the first step in their proof-of-concept study, Zivanovic, a graduate student and his advisor Dr. Chen selected five genes from the causal agent of Leaf Blight in soybean and synthesized dsRNA molecules with sequences identical to those genes.

Their research offers a new, economical, and potentially more effective way of managing plant diseases and increasing the sustainability of agricultural production. Unlike commercial pesticides that need to be applied in advance to degrade residue to safe levels, DsRNA could likely be applied the day before harvest with no harm to the consumer. This approach also offers a solution to reducing the development of fungicide resistance in pathogen populations.

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