Research ArticleAGRICULTURE

Aflatoxin-free transgenic maize using host-induced gene silencing

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science Advances  10 Mar 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 3, e1602382
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602382

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text


Aflatoxins, toxic secondary metabolites produced by some Aspergillus species, are a universal agricultural economic problem and a critical health issue. Despite decades of control efforts, aflatoxin contamination is responsible for a global loss of millions of tons of crops each year. We show that host-induced gene silencing is an effective method for eliminating this toxin in transgenic maize. We transformed maize plants with a kernel-specific RNA interference (RNAi) gene cassette targeting the aflC gene, which encodes an enzyme in the Aspergillus aflatoxin biosynthetic pathway. After pathogen infection, aflatoxin could not be detected in kernels from these RNAi transgenic maize plants, while toxin loads reached thousands of parts per billion in nontransgenic control kernels. A comparison of transcripts in developing aflatoxin-free transgenic kernels with those from nontransgenic kernels showed no significant differences between these two groups. These results demonstrate that small interfering RNA molecules can be used to silence aflatoxin biosynthesis in maize, providing an attractive and precise engineering strategy that could also be extended to other crops to improve food security.

  • mycotoxin
  • aflatoxin
  • Aspergillus
  • host-induced gene silencing
  • maize
  • Biotechnology
  • HIGS

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

More Like This