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Cornell wins grant for aphid control using RNAi

Researchers at the US Cornell University’s Boyce Thomson Institute for Plant Research (Ithaca, New York) have won a $452,000 grant to study methods of controlling aphids by disrupting sugar metabolism pathways. The study will first identify genes that in aphids and other closely related pest species are involved in sugar metabolism and water transport. Once identified, the researchers plan to develop genetically modify plants that produce double-stranded RNA sequences in their phloem that will silence target insect genes. The researchers expect that aphids feeding on the genetically modified plants will become dehydrated and die. The method will be tested in two model plant species, thale cress and tobacco. Target pests are the peach-potato aphid ( Myzus persicae), the sweet potato whitefly ( Bemisia tabaci) and the potato psyllid ( Bactericerca cockerelli). The award is funded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

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