Location: Horticultural Crops Research
Project Number: 2072-22000-040-09-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Sep 1, 2015
End Date: Aug 31, 2019
1) Identify RNAi target genes from crop pests (spotted wing drosophila, slugs, and stink bugs, etc.). 2) Design and synthesis dsRNA of target genes and green fluorescence protein (GFP) as a control gene. 3) Evaluation of RNAi impacts by injection and/or feeding into target pests.
Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) is a destructive invasive pests, and has larval development in a broad range of small fruit crops including almost all of the berry cultivars, cherries, grapes as well as other ripening fruits. Slugs are common in nursery systems which are severely damaged by several slug species. Lastly, brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is also a serious invasive pests that heavily damages over 140 agricultural and ornamental crops including nursery plants. Currently, the only way to effectively control these pest relies on the use of insecticides, which should be replaced with environmentally friendly alternative approaches. RNA interference (RNAi) for insect control as a biologically-based insecticide represents a potentially new direction of the insect pest management. To develop an RNAi-based insecticide the screening of RNAi target genes from the pest is a critical initial step. We selected RNAi targets from specific pest, and evaluate negative impact(s) on these pests. Project goals include identifying RNAi target genes and evaluating impacts with molecular and behavioral approaches, and to develop non-toxic control options for existing and invasive crop pests. Amendment #1 will add funds to continue the current research objectives and will be used to monitor and evaluate RNAi impact on SWD larvae and adults.