Grapevine leafroll disease (GLD) is a globally spreading viral infection that causes major economic losses by reducing crop yield, plant longevity and berry quality, with no effective treatment. Grapevine leafroll associated virus-3 (GLRaV-3) is the most severe and prevalent GLD strain. Here, we evaluated the ability of RNA interference (RNAi), a non-GMO gene-silencing pathway, to treat GLRaV-3 in infected Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines. We synthesized lipid-modified polyethylenimine (lmPEI) as a carrier for long double-stranded RNA (dsRNA, 250-bp-long) that targets RNA polymerase and coat protein genes that are conserved in the GLRaV-3 genome. Self-assembled dsRNA-lmPEI particles, 220 nm in diameter, displayed inner ordered domains spaced 7.3±2 nm from one another, correlating to lmPEI wrapping spirally around the dsRNA. The particles effectively protected RNA from degradation by ribonucleases, and Europium-loaded particles applied to grapevine leaves were detected as far as 60-cm from the foliar application point. In three field experiments, a single dose of foliar administration knocked down GLRaV-3 titer, and multiple doses of the treatment kept the viral titer at baseline and triggered recovery of the vine and berries. This study demonstrates RNAi as a promising platform for treating viral diseases in agriculture.
- viral diseases
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics