Among those various recent biotechnological tools, RNA Interference (RNAi) has been playing important role in crop improvement. RNAi can be defined as the ability of exogenous or endogenous double stranded RNA to suppress the expression of the gene which corresponds to the sequence of double stranded RNA. The phenomenon of RNA interference (RNAi) which involves sequence-specific gene regulation by small non-coding RNAs, i.e., small interfering RNA (siRNA) and microRNA (miRNA) has emerged as one of most powerful approaches for crop improvement. RNAi based on siRNA is one of the widely used tools of reverse genetics which aid in revealing gene functions in many species. The technology became a powerful tool to understand the functions of individual genes and also proved useful for molecular breeders to produce improved crop varieties. RNAi has been extensively used in various species to suppress gene function and is a novel approach to modify the gene expression for better quality traits and nutritional improvement in different crops. If judiciously used, this technology may go a long way to narrow the gap through production of disease, insect and virus resistant, nutritionally rich and toxic-free crops. The technology has been employed successfully to study the gene function and to alter the gene expression in plants for desired traits. RNAi has proved to be a novel and potential tool in combating abiotic and biotic stresses. Enriched nutritional quality, male sterility, delayed ripening, and secondary metabolite manipulation add to the list of successful applications of RNAi technology. This literature review focuses on the potential of RNAi technology to produce improved crop varieties.
Keywords: RNAi technology, miRNA, siRNA, Crop improvement