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Production of recombinant RNA in Escherichia coli to induce gene silencing against plant pests and pathogens through an eggplant latent viroid (ELVd) derived system

Grant number: 19/20746-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): November 02, 2021
Effective date (End): August 30, 2022
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy - Plant Health
Principal Investigator:Marcelo Eiras
Grantee:Marcelo Eiras
Host Investigator: José-Antonio Daròs
Host Institution: Instituto Biológico (IB). Agência Paulista de Tecnologia dos Agronegócios (APTA). Secretaria de Agricultura e Abastecimento (São Paulo - Estado). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas (IBMCP), Spain  
Associated research grant:17/50334-3 - Institutional research development plan (PDIp): modernization and adequacy of strategic multi-user units of the Instituto Biológico, AP.PDIP


Viroids are tiny naked RNAs that infect plants and incite diseases, some of them of great economic relevance. These pathogens do not encode for any known protein, but instead recruit host factors, structures, and routes to complete their infectious cycle. There are about 30 species of viroids classified into two families: Avsunviroidae and Pospiviroidae. Recently, the group led by Dr. José-Antonio Daròs, researcher at the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Plant Biology, IBMCP (CSIC-UPV), in Valencia, Spain, developed a system based on elements of viroid biology, particularly the eggplant latent viroid (ELVd; Avsunviroidae), able to produce large amounts of recombinant RNA in Escherichia coli. This system is recognized as potent and versatile for studying both the biology of these pathogens and biotechnological aspects for the development of strategies for pest and disease control. It is worth noting that Dr. Daròs, in addition to leading one of the main research groups that study host factors that interact with viruses and viroids with a view to developing biotechnological tools for pest and disease control, has been collaborating for over 10 years with the group of Dr. Marcelo Eiras of the Biological Institute. The main objective of this project will be to use an ELVd-derived system to produce double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) capable of inducing gene silencing against plant pests and pathogens. Therefore, to enable the use of this technology, it is intended: (i) to optimize dsRNA production and purification conditions from the ELVd derived system; (ii) to evaluate strategies for delivering dsRNAs to plants using nanomaterials; and (iii) to evaluate the protective capacity of dsRNAs (via gene silencing) against plant-infecting viruses and fungi and plant pest insects. This request for a research grant abroad aims at the development of this work under the supervision of Dr. Daròs, in order to align this innovative methodology to the needs of Brazilian agriculture, bringing new strategies for effective and lasting control of plant pests and pathogens. In addition, with the exchange, it is expected to consolidate and expand the internationalization of research lines carried out at the Biological Institute. (AU)

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