New horizons with BioClay: Protecting crops from aphids and whiteflies (2017–2020)

Abstract:
Queensland¿s $2.8 billion horticultural industries lose millions of dollars each year due to aphid and whitefly infestation, feeding damage, and insect transmitted viral diseases. Current control methods rely heavily on pesticide sprays. Toxicity to human health, terrestrial and marine environments, off target effects on beneficial insects and development of pesticide resistance are major concerns. BioClay is a novel, ground breaking alternative using degradable clay nanosheets to deliver RNA interference (RNAi) as a non-toxic, non-GM, environmentally sustainable crop protection. However, its application is currently limited to viruses. In this proposal, I aim to take the BioClay technology to new horizons by targeting aphids and whiteflies as pests as well as carriers for plant viruses. It will be a world¿s first to target sucking and piercing insect pests by RNAi as a spray. RNAi constructs will be developed to silence critical genes in aphids and whiteflies, delivered using specifically designed clay nanosheets and tested in glasshouse and limited field trials. I will achieve this with resources and skills leveraged from our industry partners, DAF ($75.693K) and Nufarm Ltd ($90K). This cross disciplinary project is well positioned towards commercialisation leading to increased productivity, clean green produce and job growth across Queensland¿s regions.
Grant type:
Advance Queensland Research Fellowships
Researchers:
  • Advance Queensland Research Fellow
    Centre for Horticultural Science
    Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
Funded by:
Queensland Government Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation