A novel way to solve pine wilt disease
Pine wilt disease is caused by a specific nematode--Bursaphelenchus xylophilus. This kind of nematode appears in North America, Europe, and East Asia. Many Pine trees are now facing this hazard. According to statistics, B. xylophilus has caused more than 5,000 hectares of pine forests to die and over 20 million US dollars economic losses in Taiwan. Moreover, the deaths of pine trees also caused huge damages to our forests. The nematodes are harmful to various tree species and can spread quickly. Many countries have been affected by B. xylophilus, but no effective method has been found to prevent pine wilt diseases so far.
We aim to generate a new kind of pine tree which can synthesize siRNA that encodes important gene information to B. xylophilus, such as target genes related to its reproduction and pathogenicity. As soon as the nematodes uptake plant cells, siRNA generated by pine trees will destroy genes that significantly affect the survival rates of nematodes.
Agrobacterium tumefaciens is a kind of bacterium that can infect plant cells and transfer a particular sequence of their DNA to the plant cells. By transferring the particular gene fragment into plant cells, the cells get the ability to generate siRNA, which is our weapon to degrade the genes of nematodes. As soon as the nematodes uptake plant cells, siRNA travels into their intestine system, which then diffuses into their whole body. Eventually, RNAi plays their role, depressing the reproduction and pathogenicity abilities of B. xylophilus.
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