RNAi-Based Biofungicides as a Promising Next-Generation Strategy for Controlling Devastating Gray Mold Diseases
Botrytis cinerea is one of the most critical agro-economic phytopathogens and has been reported to cause gray mold disease in more than 1000 plant species. Meanwhile, small interfering RNA (siRNA), which induce RNA interference (RNAi), are involved in both host immunity and pathogen virulence. B. cinerea has been reported to use both siRNA effectors and host RNAi machinery to facilitate the progression of gray mold in host species. Accordingly, RNAi-based biofungicides that use double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) to target essential fungal genes are considered an emerging approach for controlling devastating gray mold diseases. Furthermore, spray-induced gene silencing (SIGS), in which the foliar application of dsRNA is used to silence the pathogen virulence genes, holds great potential as an alternative to host-induced gene silencing (HIGS). Recently, SIGS approaches have attracted research interest, owing to their ability to mitigate both pre- and post-harvest B. cinerea infections. The RNAi-mediated regulation of host immunity and susceptibility in B. cinerea–host interactions are summarized in this review, along with the limitations of the current knowledge of RNAi-based biofungicides, especially regarding SIGS approaches for controlling gray mold diseases under field conditions.