RNA-based biocontrol for use in pest management

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Matt Bramlett - Group Leader - Biological Targets, Syngenta

Short description of the presentation:

Matt Bramlett, Geert Plaetinck, Pascale Feldmann, Kevin Donohue, Jason Vincent and Yann Naudet. 
Syngenta (Syngenta Ghent Innovation Center)

RNA-based biocontrols provide a new mode of action based on the naturally-occurring process of RNA interference (RNAi) and can offer advantages in flexibility for pest control over traditional technologies. Because nucleotide sequence complementarity is a determining factor, RNA-based biocontrols can be designed to be selective for target pests whilst minimizing the potential for effects in non-target organisms. RNA-based biocontrols selective for Colorado potato beetle (CPB) (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) have been tested over several seasons in field trials at multiple locations. The results demonstrate that the RNA-based biocontrol is as effective at protecting potato crops as a class-leading chemical pesticide. The potential for RNA-based biocontrol solutions to overcome resistance to conventional pesticides, provide low environmental impact and good crop tolerance has also been evaluated. These results clearly validate RNA-based biocontrols as effective solutions for crop protection. Corn rootworms (CRW) are devastating corn pests and are responsible for significant crop loss each year. Soil-applied RNA-based biocontrols are being developed for effective control of and the potential for high selectivity for CRW. Applying RNA-based biocontrols directly to soil leads to mortality of emerging Western CRW (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera) larvae and protects corn plantlets from root damage. This finding opens new possibilities to control CRW more broadly than current control methods. A particular challenge for the CRW project is to have sustained activity of the active RNAi ingredient (double stranded RNA) in the soil environment. Stink bug species are economically important pests across various geographies and crop systems.  Applying sprayed, formulated RNA-based biocontrol protects 2 week old soybean plants against damage by Southern green stink bugs (Nezara viridula). Syngenta is developing these RNA-based biocontrols into commercially viable products, with new modes of action to support growers in their integrated pest management programs.

Biography of the speaker:

Matt Bramlett is Group Leader for Biological Targets at Syngenta‚Äôs Ghent Innovation Center.  He studied biology at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Texas A&M University, working on the mechanistic elucidation of bioinorganic enzymes.  He conducted post-doctoral research at Duke University working on the development of peptide-based inhibitors of inflammation.  Since joining Syngenta in 2007, Matt has focused on pesticide discovery and development with significant experience in the discovery of protein insecticides.  In his current role, he manages a research group and projects within the area of RNA-based biocontrols.


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