U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska



P. C. Faustinelli

Date of this Version



Plant Biology 20 (2018) 444–449


© 2018 German Society for Plant Sciences

This document is a U.S. government work and is not subject to copyright in the United States.



• New technologies are needed to eliminate mycotoxins and/or fungal pathogens from agricultural products. RNA interference (RNAi) has shown potential to control fungi associated with crops. In RNAi, double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) targets homologous mRNA for cleavage, and can reach the mRNA of pathogens in contact with the plant. The key element in this process is the movement of RNA signals cell-to-cell and over long distances within the plant, and between host plants and parasites.

• In this study, we selected a regulatory gene in the aflatoxin biosynthesis pathway, aflS/aflR, necessary for the production of aflatoxins in Aspergillus spp. We designed a Dicersubstrate RNA (DsiRNA) to study the movement and stability of the duplex over time in in vitro peanut plants using stem-loop primers and RT-PCR for DsiRNA detection.

• The preliminary results demonstrated that DsiRNA was absorbed and moved away from the point of application, spread systemically and was transported rapidly, most likely through the phloem of the shoot, to the sink tissues, such as new auxiliary shoots, flowers and newly formed pegs. The DsiRNA remained detectable for at least 30 days after treatment.

• This is the first time that movement of exogenous DsiRNA in in vitro peanut plants has been described. Since DsiRNA was detectable in the pegs 15 days after treatment, aflatoxin reduction may be possible if the duplexes containing part of the aflatoxin biosynthesis pathogen gene induce silencing in the peanut seeds colonised by Aspergillus spp. The application of small RNAs could be a non-transformative option for mycotoxin contamination control.