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      Pest control. Full crop protection from an insect pest by expression of long double-stranded RNAs in plastids.

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          Double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) targeted against essential genes can trigger a lethal RNA interference (RNAi) response in insect pests. The application of this concept in plant protection is hampered by the presence of an endogenous plant RNAi pathway that processes dsRNAs into short interfering RNAs. We found that long dsRNAs can be stably produced in chloroplasts, a cellular compartment that appears to lack an RNAi machinery. When expressed from the chloroplast genome, dsRNAs accumulated to as much as 0.4% of the total cellular RNA. Transplastomic potato plants producing dsRNAs targeted against the β-actin gene of the Colorado potato beetle, a notorious agricultural pest, were protected from herbivory and were lethal to its larvae. Thus, chloroplast expression of long dsRNAs can provide crop protection without chemical pesticides.

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          Control of coleopteran insect pests through RNA interference.

          Commercial biotechnology solutions for controlling lepidopteran and coleopteran insect pests on crops depend on the expression of Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal proteins, most of which permeabilize the membranes of gut epithelial cells of susceptible insects. However, insect control strategies involving a different mode of action would be valuable for managing the emergence of insect resistance. Toward this end, we demonstrate that ingestion of double-stranded (ds)RNAs supplied in an artificial diet triggers RNA interference in several coleopteran species, most notably the western corn rootworm (WCR) Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte. This may result in larval stunting and mortality. Transgenic corn plants engineered to express WCR dsRNAs show a significant reduction in WCR feeding damage in a growth chamber assay, suggesting that the RNAi pathway can be exploited to control insect pests via in planta expression of a dsRNA.
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            Silencing a cotton bollworm P450 monooxygenase gene by plant-mediated RNAi impairs larval tolerance of gossypol.

            We identify a cytochrome P450 gene (CYP6AE14) from cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera), which permits this herbivore to tolerate otherwise inhibitory concentrations of the cotton metabolite, gossypol. CYP6AE14 is highly expressed in the midgut and its expression correlates with larval growth when gossypol is included in the diet. When larvae are fed plant material expressing double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) specific to CYP6AE14, levels of this transcript in the midgut decrease and larval growth is retarded. Both effects are more dramatic in the presence of gossypol. As a glutathione-S-transferase gene (GST1) is silenced in GST1 dsRNA-expressing plants, feeding insects plant material expressing dsRNA may be a general strategy to trigger RNA interference and could find applications in entomological research and field control of insect pests.
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              Ingested double-stranded RNAs can act as species-specific insecticides.

              A serious shortcoming of many insecticides is that they can kill non-target species. To address this issue, we harnessed the sequence specificity of RNA interference (RNAi) to design orally-delivered double-stranded (ds) RNAs that selectively killed target species. Fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), flour beetles (Tribolium castaneum), pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum), and tobacco hornworms (Manduca sexta) were selectively killed when fed species-specific dsRNA targeting vATPase transcripts. We also demonstrate that even closely related species can be selectively killed by feeding on dsRNAs that target the more variable regions of genes, such as the 3' untranslated regions (UTRs): four species of the genus Drosophila were selectively killed by feeding on short (<40 nt) dsRNAs that targeted the 3' UTR of the gamma-tubulin gene. For the aphid nymphs and beetle and moth larvae, dsRNA could simply be dissolved into their diets, but to induce RNAi in the drosophilid species, the dsRNAs needed to be encapsulated in liposomes to help facilitate uptake of the dsRNA. This is the first demonstration of RNAi following ingestion of dsRNA in all of the species tested, and the method offers promise of both higher throughput RNAi screens and the development of a new generation of species-specific insecticides.

                Author and article information

                Science (New York, N.Y.)
                Feb 27 2015
                : 347
                : 6225
                [1 ] Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie, D-14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany.
                [2 ] Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Ökologie, D-07745 Jena, Germany.
                [3 ] Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenphysiologie, D-14476 Potsdam-Golm, Germany. rbock@mpimp-golm.mpg.de.
                Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science.


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