Research Topic

Advances and Challenges of RNAi Based Technologies for Plants

About this Research Topic

Modern agriculture requires scientific and technological innovations to tackle issues regarding the quantity and quality of plant products for the benefit of farmers, consumers, and the environment. New methods to improve plant resistance to pest and disease, crop quality and yield are required to overcome the challenges of having enough and safe food, feeding and producing sustainable biomass under the current context of climate change.

RNA silencing is a sequence-specific mechanism of regulation of gene expression based on the action of micro- and small RNA molecules (miRNA and siRNA) derived from double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) precursors. These small RNAs can trigger post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) since they guide the sequence-specific cleavage of a target RNA. These strategies represent useful tools for functional genomics and crop biotechnology. Interfering RNAs can be used to improve plant growth and productivity by suppressing undesirable traits, thus switching resources to more beneficial traits as quality and yield. Using a ‘host-induced’ silencing approach (HIGS), interfering RNAs can be used to regulate gene expression in pests, disease-causing organisms, and parasitic plants. Additionally, spray induced gene silencing (SIGS) is a more recent strategy for bio-based crop protection. Recent studies demonstrate that spraying dsRNAs and sRNAs that target essential pathogen genes on plant surfaces may confer efficient crop protection. This strategy of disease control is potentially sustainable and more environmentally friendly than traditional chemical solutions.

This Research Topic aims to promote the discoveries of new mechanisms and players implicated in the regulation of gene expression mediated by RNA interference, as well as, the translational application of RNA-based silencing to modulate plant metabolism and adaptation to biotic and abiotic constraints. This Research Topic arises from the activities of the European COST Action CA15223 iPLANTA-Modifying plants to produce interfering RNA.

We welcome excellent Original Research and Review articles coming from both iPLANTA participants and non-iPLANTA participants dealing with various aspects of RNA interference in plants. Manuscripts should address, but not be restricted to, the following topics:

- New findings on the fundamental knowledge on target specificity, activity, and regulation of siRNA and miRNA – mediated silencing mechanisms in plants.
- Evaluation of the efficacy of RNA molecules for plant protection against diseases and pests either using HIGS or SIGS.
- Evaluation of the efficacy of RNA molecules to trigger metabolic changes in plants.
- Examination of the specificity of the selected miRNAs, siRNAs and dsRNAs and their effects on both target and non-target/off-target organisms.
- Understanding the modes of transmission, uptake, systemic spread and degradation of miRNAs, siRNAs and dsRNAs in target and non-target organisms.
- Compare efficiency, risk and benefits of RNAi against available technologies.


Keywords: RNAi, Plant Gene Silencing, RNA, Spray Induced Gene Silencing (SIGS), COST Action CA15223


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Modern agriculture requires scientific and technological innovations to tackle issues regarding the quantity and quality of plant products for the benefit of farmers, consumers, and the environment. New methods to improve plant resistance to pest and disease, crop quality and yield are required to overcome the challenges of having enough and safe food, feeding and producing sustainable biomass under the current context of climate change.

RNA silencing is a sequence-specific mechanism of regulation of gene expression based on the action of micro- and small RNA molecules (miRNA and siRNA) derived from double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) precursors. These small RNAs can trigger post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) since they guide the sequence-specific cleavage of a target RNA. These strategies represent useful tools for functional genomics and crop biotechnology. Interfering RNAs can be used to improve plant growth and productivity by suppressing undesirable traits, thus switching resources to more beneficial traits as quality and yield. Using a ‘host-induced’ silencing approach (HIGS), interfering RNAs can be used to regulate gene expression in pests, disease-causing organisms, and parasitic plants. Additionally, spray induced gene silencing (SIGS) is a more recent strategy for bio-based crop protection. Recent studies demonstrate that spraying dsRNAs and sRNAs that target essential pathogen genes on plant surfaces may confer efficient crop protection. This strategy of disease control is potentially sustainable and more environmentally friendly than traditional chemical solutions.

This Research Topic aims to promote the discoveries of new mechanisms and players implicated in the regulation of gene expression mediated by RNA interference, as well as, the translational application of RNA-based silencing to modulate plant metabolism and adaptation to biotic and abiotic constraints. This Research Topic arises from the activities of the European COST Action CA15223 iPLANTA-Modifying plants to produce interfering RNA.

We welcome excellent Original Research and Review articles coming from both iPLANTA participants and non-iPLANTA participants dealing with various aspects of RNA interference in plants. Manuscripts should address, but not be restricted to, the following topics:

- New findings on the fundamental knowledge on target specificity, activity, and regulation of siRNA and miRNA – mediated silencing mechanisms in plants.
- Evaluation of the efficacy of RNA molecules for plant protection against diseases and pests either using HIGS or SIGS.
- Evaluation of the efficacy of RNA molecules to trigger metabolic changes in plants.
- Examination of the specificity of the selected miRNAs, siRNAs and dsRNAs and their effects on both target and non-target/off-target organisms.
- Understanding the modes of transmission, uptake, systemic spread and degradation of miRNAs, siRNAs and dsRNAs in target and non-target organisms.
- Compare efficiency, risk and benefits of RNAi against available technologies.


Keywords: RNAi, Plant Gene Silencing, RNA, Spray Induced Gene Silencing (SIGS), COST Action CA15223


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

31 January 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

31 January 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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