, Volume 239, Issue 3, pp 543-564
Date: 09 Jan 2014

RNA interference: concept to reality in crop improvement

Abstract

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.