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Double-stranded RNA prevents and cures infection by rust fungi

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Degnan, R. M., Shuey, L. S., Radford-Smith, J., Gardiner, D. M., Carroll, B. J., Mitter, N., McTaggart, A. R. and Sawyer, A. (2023) Double-stranded RNA prevents and cures infection by rust fungi. Communications Biology, 6 (1). p. 1234. ISSN 2399-3642


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-023-05618-z


Fungal pathogens that impact perennial plants or natural ecosystems require management strategies beyond fungicides and breeding for resistance. Rust fungi, some of the most economically and environmentally important plant pathogens, have shown amenability to double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) mediated control. To date, dsRNA treatments have been applied prior to infection or together with the inoculum. Here we show that a dsRNA spray can effectively prevent and cure infection by Austropuccinia psidii (cause of myrtle rust) at different stages of the disease cycle. Significant reductions in disease coverage were observed in plants treated with dsRNA targeting essential fungal genes 48 h pre-infection through to 14 days post-infection. For curative treatments, improvements in plant health and photosynthetic capacity were seen 2–6 weeks post-infection. Two-photon microscopy suggests inhibitory activity of dsRNA on intercellular hyphae or haustoria. Our results show that dsRNA acts both preventively and curatively against myrtle rust disease, with treated plants recovering from severe infection. These findings have immediate potential in the management of the more than 10-year epidemic of myrtle rust in Australia.

Item Type:Article
Corporate Creators:Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland
Business groups:Horticulture and Forestry Science
Keywords:Conservation biology Forest ecology Fungal pathogenesis Plant physiology RNAi
Subjects:Science > Biology
Plant culture
Plant pests and diseases > Plant pathology
Live Archive:14 Dec 2023 01:56
Last Modified:14 Dec 2023 01:56

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