Development of RNAi Enhancers using a yeast-based bio-manufacturing and delivery system and applications as a biopesticide against economically important crop pests in Canada

Biological pest control strategies (bio pesticides) offer promise as non-toxic and environmentally-friendly alternatives to conventional chemical pesticides. The use of RNA-interference as a potential biopesticide has become increasingly attractive due to its highly specific activity against target pest species, non-toxic and biodegradability, but as an emerging technology, has its limitations. This project aims to increase the effectiveness of RNAi as a biopesticides by developing Baker's yeast which produces different natural RNAi-enhancing molecules along side the RNAi-effector molecules, all inside of the yeast cell. Those yeast cells would be grown up using existing technology and inactivated and applied as a dead yeast cells to crops in the place of conventional chemical pesticides. Insect pests that consume any crop plants covered in the yeast-based biopesticide would be specifically targeted and killed by the RNAi-effectors within those yeast cells. Non-target species would be unharmed due to the highly specific nature of RNAi. The yeast biopesticide, being dead yeast cells, would simply biodegrade in the environment and poses to risk to the environment, ecosystem or human health.

Kateryna Ievdokymenko
Faculty Supervisor: 
Juli Carrillo
British Columbia
Partner University: