A nematode, Meloidegyne incognitia infects the roots of tobacco plants. It feeds on root cells and causes them to grow into large knots. Its infection reduces the yield largely. The strategy adopted to protect tobacco plants is RNA interference, which is a naturally occurring mechanism in all eukaryotes as a method of cellular defence that leads to silencing of specific genes. This method involves silencing of specific mRNA due to formation of dsRNA molecule. This dsRNA molecule prevented the translation of the original mRNA.
The use of agrobacterium vectors has greatly helped in controlling Meloidegyne incognitia infestation in tobacco plants. The nematode specific genes, which were responsible for parasitism, were introduced in tobacco plants through agrobacterium vectors. The genes introduced in the host plant, produced both sense RNA and anti-sense RNA, which were complementary to each other. These two RNAs formed a dsRNA molecule, which initiated silencing of the specific mRNA in the nematode, when taken up by the parasite. As a result, the translation of mRNA in the parasite was prevented and it was unable to survive in the transgenic tobacco plant. Through RNA interference, the plant got itself protected from infestation.
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