The present invention provides a new method for producing large quantities of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) using Escherichia coli as a biofactory. dsRNAs triggers RNAi and it has been proven as an effective method to fight against plant pests. This is possible because dsRNAs can be specifically designed to silence target genes of pests and pathogens, and if these dsRNAs are applied topically in plants, when the pathogen ingest them, the dsRNAs induce the silencing of vital genes, causing the death or altering the development of the specific pathogen.
Despite the use of dsRNAs as pesticides provides multiple benefits, especially because dsRNAs are natural molecules and can be designed to have high specificity, the high production costs are a limitation for its commercial use. The technology presented here allows the production of large quantities of dsRNA using Escherichia coli as a biofactory, overcoming the main limitation of this technology. Moreover, the inventor team has, and is developing, know-how on microencapsulation and stabilization methods to allow topic application of dsRNA. Until today, the inventor team has produced tens of milligrams of dsRNA per liter of E. coli culture in standard laboratory conditions and the anti-pest activity of the produced dsRNAs has been demonstrated against the Western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virguifera virguifera).
Currently, developments are being done to scale-up production in industrial fermentation conditions. The method of producing large quantities of dsRNA presented here has been patented and the objective of the institution represented is to license the technology in order to bring this innovation to the market.
Institution: Universitat Politècnica de València
Protection status: Patent application
Contact: Miguel Estruch / firstname.lastname@example.org