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Last updateFri, 23 Feb 2024 1pm

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Synthetic RNA vaccines to protect plants

CSIC and the Universitat Politècnica de València have developed a new generation of plant vaccines based on RNA molecules. Highly specific, they can be applied in a non-transgenic way. Their main use is the control of diseases caused by viruses, as an alternative to traditional pesticides.

Nicotiana benthamiana tobacco plants treated to improve resistance to Tomato spotted wilt virus: with control treatment (left) and treatment with the antiviral syntasi-RNAs (right).

A team of researchers from CSIC and the Universitat Politècnica de València has developed synthetic RNA molecules (syntasi-RNA), small RNA molecules produced by a harmless virus that is applied to plants by spraying.

The synthetic RNAs are specifically designed to inactivate genes of pathogenic viruses, preventing them from proliferating and attacking the plant. The team proposes to develop a new generation of plant vaccines based on a plant extract containing harmless viruses that produce synthetic RNA molecules that inactivate pathogenic viruses in a highly specific way.

The team has successfully tested the development to improve the resistance of the tobacco plant Nicotiana benthamiana to tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), a disease that causes severe damage to plantations worldwide if not controlled in time.

In addition, the technology allows the simultaneous inactivation of multiple genes of a single pathogen, which minimises the risk of a virus to become resistant.

Another advantage is that multiple and continuous treatments are not required. A single application is sufficient, which results in reduced costs. The main application of this development is to control viruses in plants in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

Industrial partners from agrochemical and crop improvement sectors are sought to collaborate in the development of a commercial application based on this technology in the framework of a patent licensing agreement.

A team of researchers from CSIC and the Universitat Politècnica de València has developed synthetic RNA molecules (syntasi-RNA), small RNA molecules produced by a harmless virus that is applied to plants by spraying.

The synthetic RNAs are specifically designed to inactivate genes of pathogenic viruses, preventing them from proliferating and attacking the plant. The team proposes to develop a new generation of plant vaccines based on a plant extract containing harmless viruses that produce synthetic RNA molecules that inactivate pathogenic viruses in a highly specific way.

The team has successfully tested the development to improve the resistance of the tobacco plant Nicotiana benthamiana to tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), a disease that causes severe damage to plantations worldwide if not controlled in time.

In addition, the technology allows the simultaneous inactivation of multiple genes of a single pathogen, which minimises the risk of a virus to become resistant.

Another advantage is that multiple and continuous treatments are not required. A single application is sufficient, which results in reduced costs. The main application of this development is to control viruses in plants in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

Industrial partners from agrochemical and crop improvement sectors are sought to collaborate in the development of a commercial application based on this technology in the framework of a patent licensing agreement.

Contact:

Laura Zacarés Sanmartín
Deputy Vice-Presidency
for Innovation and Transference- CSIC
Tel.: 963 87 99 29
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.