Innovative RNAi Based Soybean Cyst Nematode Control

J. Li, T. Kahn
Innatrix Inc., North Carolina, United States

Keywords: Soybean, Soybean Cyst Nematode, RNAi, biopesticide, seed treatment

More than 30% of total soybean crop loss is due to soybean cyst nematode (SCN; Heterodera glycines), with losses valued at nearly $32B over the period from 1996 to 2016. Methyl bromide was previously used to eradicate SCN in soybean fields, however, the agent has been globally banned due to its severe impacts on the environment. In recent decades, native resistance in soybean plants has been the main commercial method of controlling this pest, but SCN is developing the ability to escape this control. With very few acceptable chemical nematicides available, novel approaches are urgently needed to mitigate the economic damage due to this devastating parasite. The goal of this project is to develop novel biopesticides to support improved crop yield and productivity. We have identified siRNA molecules that were confirmed to control SCN well when expressed in transgenic soybean plants. We plan to develop our siRNA molecules into a seed treatment that can be applied exogenously to roots. Once the molecules have entered the roots, nematodes will be exposed to them. We propose to screen formulations to allow the siRNA molecules to enter roots, and that protect the siRNA molecules from degradation in the soil.