Protection of Canola from Pathogenic Fungi Using RNA Interference Technologies

Agronomy Research  Diseases 
Start Date
End Date
Principal Investigator
Steve Whyard - University of Manitoba
Mark Belmonte - University of Manitoba, Mazdak Khajehpour - University of Manitoba, Dwayne Hedegus - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Saskatoon)
MCGA Funding
Total Project Funding
External Funding Partners
Canola Council of Canada, Alberta Canola, SaskCanola, Canadian Agricultural Partnership
Project Ongoing...

Research Objective

  • Apply RNA technologies to the industry problem of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and test whether it has an effect on inhibiting growth
  • Test dsRNA for adhesion to leaves, durability, and persistence in soil

Project Description

Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, also known as sclerotinia, is a fungal pathogen that is a major contributor to yield loss in the canola industry. Currently there are no canola varieties that are sclerotinia resistant and farmers rely on crop rotations and foliar fungicides to deal with it, but that is not enough. Recently, there were ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules that were found to inhibit sclerotinia growth when they were applied in the lab. RNA is a genetic material that can be applied as a foliar fungicide and is highly specific to inhibit only sclerotinia and no other beneficial components. This study proposed to apply the RNA technology in the field to see if it would inhibit sclerotinia even in field conditions but without the side effects of conventional pesticides. This RNA technology would reduce excessive chemical inputs and promote agro-ecological health, as well as helping canola producers with a major disease problem.

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