RNAi-based biopesticides for control of pests and pathogens of Ontario specialty crops

Lead Applicant: Melanie Kalischuk

Research Priority: Plant Health & Protection Projects

Program Type: Tier 1

Funding Cycle: 2022/2023

Research Centre: Ontario Crops Research Centre - Simcoe

Research Summary: Pests and disease-causing microorganisms (pathogens) cause devastating yield and quality losses in strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. This research will use RNA interference (RNAi), a technology that can deactivate genes, and, when sprayed on plants, acts as an environmentally sustainable, natural alternative to chemical pesticides. A new integrated pest management strategy using microencapsulated RNAi will be developed, optimized and evaluated against some of the most destructive pests and diseases affecting Ontario-grown berries. Using RNAi will reduce the development of pathogen resistance to pesticides and provide new environmentally and economically beneficial tools to prevent diseases in Ontario specialty crops.