, Volume 239, Issue 3, pp 543-564

First online:

RNA interference: concept to reality in crop improvement

  • Satyajit SaurabhAffiliated withDepartment of Biotechnology, Birla Institute of Technology
  • , Ambarish S. VidyarthiAffiliated withDepartment of Biotechnology, Birla Institute of Technology
  • , Dinesh PrasadAffiliated withDepartment of Biotechnology, Birla Institute of Technology Email author 


The phenomenon of RNA interference (RNAi) is involved in sequence-specific gene regulation driven by the introduction of dsRNA resulting in inhibition of translation or transcriptional repression. Since the discovery of RNAi and its regulatory potentials, it has become evident that RNAi has immense potential in opening a new vista for crop improvement. RNAi technology is precise, efficient, stable and better than antisense technology. It has been employed successfully to alter the gene expression in plants for better quality traits. The impact of RNAi to improve the crop plants has proved to be a novel approach in combating the biotic and abiotic stresses and the nutritional improvement in terms of bio-fortification and bio-elimination. It has been employed successfully to bring about modifications of several desired traits in different plants. These modifications include nutritional improvements, reduced content of food allergens and toxic compounds, enhanced defence against biotic and abiotic stresses, alteration in morphology, crafting male sterility, enhanced secondary metabolite synthesis and seedless plant varieties. However, crop plants developed by RNAi strategy may create biosafety risks. So, there is a need for risk assessment of GM crops in order to make RNAi a better tool to develop crops with biosafety measures. This article is an attempt to review the RNAi, its biochemistry, and the achievements attributed to the application of RNAi in crop improvement.


RNAi miRNA siRNA Crop improvement Seedless fruit Morphology alteration Male sterility Stress tolerance Defence enhancement