1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Molecular-based research identifying protein and RNAi molecules that have insect deterrent activity when ingested by the insect pests (Asian citrus psyllid Diaprepes, root weevil and Whitefly) of citrus.
1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Use of insect bioassays and development of transgenic plants to study the activity of protein and RNAi molecules against pest insects of agriculture. Specific methods include dsRNA and peptide synthesis, mRNA and protein characterization insect feeding bioassays and development of transgenic plants.
3. Progress Report:
This project is related to Objective 3b: Develop novel control methods based on disrupting key processes in pest biology. We previously identified that we could induce mortality in the Asian citrus psyllid through sequence-specific down-regulation of a targeted gene through a mechanism termed RNA interference (RNAi). Through collaboration with University of Florida researchers, we have used a Citrus tristeza virus expression vector to produce citrus plants that synthesize these dsRNAs. When adult psyllid were allowed to feed on leaves of these plants, psyllid survival was significantly reduced and we also showed that Citrus Greening transmission was blocked in Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) that fed on these plants and in the offspring produced from eggs laid by these ACP. This research showed the importance of targeting specific biological systems as a means of obtaining sustainable control.