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


Document Type


Date of this Version



Scientific Reports (2020) 10:13820



The Author(s) 2020


Previously, we have shown that RNA interference (RNAi) can prevent aflatoxin accumulation in transformed peanuts. To explore aflatoxin control by exogenous delivery of double-strand RNA (dsRNA) it is necessary to understand the generation of small RNA (sRNA) populations. We sequenced 12 duplicate sRNA libraries of in-vitro-grown peanut plants, 24 and 48 h after exogenous application of five gene fragments (RNAi-5x) related to aflatoxin biosynthesis in Aspergillus flavus. RNAi-5x was applied either as double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) or RNAi plasmid DNA (dsDNA). Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) derived from RNAi-5x were significantly more abundant at 48 h than at 24 h, and the majority mapped to the fragment of aflatoxin efflux-pump gene. RNAi-5x-specific siRNAs were significantly, three to fivefold, more abundant in dsDNA than dsRNA treatments. Further examination of known micro RNAs related to disease-resistance, showed significant down-regulation of miR399 and up-regulation of miR482 in leaves treated with dsDNA compared to the control. These results show that sRNA sequencing is useful to compare exogenous RNAi delivery methods on peanut plants, and to analyze the efficacy of molecular constructs to generate siRNAs against specific gene targets. This work lays the foundation for non-transgenic delivery of RNAi in controlling aflatoxins in peanut.