RNAi based Postharvest Solutions

Recent developments on RNAi based technologies to protect plants are promising. Most applications are to protect plants against pathogens. In postharvest, reduction of respiration and ethylene signalling are essential to prolong shelf life/keeping quality. This is often done by lowering temperature and the application of ethylene inhibitors. The other big problem for keeping quality are pathogens. For this, often pesticides often applied after harvest to reduce food losses. However, regulations towards the use of post-harvest pesticides is getting stricter where alternative are needed. In the search to reduce the use of ethylene inhibitors, pesticides, and biocides, we propose that RNAi gene silencing can be used to improve keeping quality.

The project will start with an extensive literature review on the subject after you will be well prepared to set-up experiments with your supervisors. Two systems will be used: Strawberry infected with Botrytis will be treated with RNAi molecules that inhibit its growth. Petunia flowers will be treated with RNAi molecules that inhibit ethylene signalling to investigate if flowers treated with ethylene will have a longer flower life. The topic of this thesis is to test the best way to apply the RNAi molecules to the tissue, and to investigate if the RNAi treatment is effective on a molecular as well as physiological level.

Used skills

  • Cloning (tissue specific knock out constructs, CRISPR, Golden Gate, Gateway, and traditional cloning)
  • Tissue culture
  • Plant transformation: Stable, transient, protoplast transformation
  • Molecular biology: DNA, RNA, RT-(q)PCR, Cloning
  • Metabolite analysis: HPLC, GC-MS
  • Enzyme assays

Interested in doing a BSc or MSc thesis at HPP? Please contact the HPP student coordinator Katharina Hanika.