Believe me when I say that vaccines are not a subject I expected to cover this month or anytime in the future. But what if it were a vaccine for peanuts against one of our most dreaded diseases — tomato spotted wilt virus? Now that’s something to talk about.
In its most basic form, a vaccine contains a portion of the disease it is being used against. These germs are weakened to the point where the disease is not transmitted but instead stimulates the immune system in the host to produce antibodies. When the host comes into contact with the actual disease, the built-up well of antibodies quickly dispatches the disease before it grows.
Is a vaccine against peanut diseases possible?
Research from University of Georgia crop virologist Sudeep Bag in tobacco has already found that a vaccine can work against TSWV. His project, Induction of Plant Resistance in Tobacco Against Tomato Spotted Wilt Orthotospovirus Through Foliar Application of dsRNA, was recently published.
Bag writes, “We used a non-transgenic strategy to induce RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated resistance in tobacco plants against TSWV. When topically applied to tobacco leaves, the molecules elicited a resistance response…We also show the systemic movement of dsRNA_N from the inoculated leaves to younger, non-inoculated leaves.”
Bag and the other project authors conclude that the topical application of double-stranded RNAs to induce RNAi is an environmentally safe and efficient way to manage TSWV in tobacco crops and could be applicable to other TSWV-susceptible crops.
He is now submitting a proposal to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund development for a plant vaccine against the disease in peanut.
A vaccine against TSWV would likely be a welcome tool for peanut producers.