RNA interference (RNAi) technology is a promising and effective approach for pest insect management. Owing to its sequence-guided working mechanism, RNAi has a high degree of species-selectivity, thus minimizing potential adverse effects on nontarget organisms. Recently, engineering plastid (chloroplast) genome, rather than the nuclear genome, to produce double-stranded RNAs has emerged as a powerful way to protect plants from multiple arthropod pests. Here, we review the recent progresses in the plastid-mediated RNAi (PM-RNAi) approach for pest control and the factors influencing its efficacy, and propose the strategies for further efficiency improvement. We also discuss the current challenges and the biosafety-related issues of PM-RNAi technology that need to be addressed for commercial production.
Keywords: RNAi efficiency; crop protection; double-stranded RNAs; plastid engineering.
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