RNAi in Plants

I take exception with your claim in The Scientist1 that RNAi was first discovered in Caenorhabditis elegans. While the term "RNAi" was first coined by Fire and colleagues,2 several years of research on post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS) in different plant systems preceded any investigations on the matter by researchers working in animal systems. The first reports were, in fact, the findings of Napoli et al. (1990, Plant Cell, 2:279) and van der Krol et al. (1990, Plant Cell, 2:291) that anthocyanin levels in petunia flower petals could be down-regulated by PTGS of chalcone synthase. Furthermore, the discovery that small ds RNAs are efficacious in gene silencing was suggested by many studies which predate those in C. elegans. Although it has caught on as perhaps a better "catchword," RNAi is just another acronym for a still poorly understood mechanism. It is also...

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