RNAi as an emerging approach to control Fusarium head blight disease and mycotoxin contamination in cereals

Ana Karla Machado, Neil A. Brown, Martin Urban, Kostya Kanyuka, Kim E. Hammond-Kosack

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Citations (SciVal)


Fusarium graminearum is a major fungal pathogen of cereals worldwide, causing seedling, stem base and floral diseases, including Fusarium head blight (FHB). In addition to yield and quality losses, FHB contaminates cereal grain with mycotoxins, including deoxynivalenol, which are harmful to human, animal and ecosystem health. Currently, FHB control is only partially effective due to several intractable problems. RNA interference (RNAi) is a natural mechanism that regulates gene expression. RNAi has been exploited in the development of new genomic tools that allow the targeted silencing of genes of interest in many eukaryotes. Host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) is a transgenic technology used to silence fungal genes in planta during attempted infection and thereby reduces disease levels. HIGS relies on the host plant's ability to produce mobile small interfering RNA molecules, generated from long double-stranded RNA, which are complementary to targeted fungal genes. These molecules are transferred from the plant to invading fungi via an uncharacterised mechanism, to cause gene silencing. Here, we describe recent advances in RNAi-mediated control of plant pathogenic fungi, highlighting the key advantages and disadvantages. We then discuss the developments and implications of combining HIGS with other methods of disease control. © 2017 The Authors. Pest Management Science published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society of Chemical Industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-799
Number of pages10
JournalPest Management Science
Issue number4
Early online date2 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Barley
  • Deoxynivalenol
  • Disease resistance
  • Fungal diseases
  • Fusarium graminearum
  • Host-induced gene silencing (HIGS)
  • Maize
  • Spray-induced gene silencing (SIGS)
  • Transgenic plants
  • Wheat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science


Dive into the research topics of 'RNAi as an emerging approach to control Fusarium head blight disease and mycotoxin contamination in cereals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this