In most eukaryotes, gene expression can be suppressed through the sequence-specific degradation of target RNA by complementary small RNAs (sRNAs), a process termed RNA interference (RNAi). Recent RNAi tools are based on sRNAs that are designed to silence specific plant genes and pathogens. Such sRNAs are named artificial sRNAs (art-sRNAs) which are typically 21-nt long and computationally designed to silence target RNA with high efficacy and specificity.
Our lab seeks to develop next-generation art-sRNAi tools for controlling gene expression and inducing antiviral resistance in plants.
We have the following specific goals:
(i) Optimizing art-sRNAi efficacy, fine-tunability and systemicity for absolute control of plant gene expression.
(ii) Developing efficient GMO-free art-sRNAi through the cost-efficient production and topical delivery of art-sRNA precursors to plants, and to use viral vectors or by editing endogenous sRNA precursors to express art-sRNAs.
(iii) Applying these optimized methodologies to improve real crops.