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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Research

Title: Non-enzymatic hydrolysis of RNA in workers of the ant Nylanderia pubens

item Valles, Steven
item Strong, Charles - Chuck
item Buss, Eileen
item Oi, David

Submitted to: Journal of Insect Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/4/2012
Publication Date: 12/15/2012
Publication URL:
Citation: Valles, S.M., Strong, C.A., Buss, E.A., Oi, D.H. 2012. Non-enzymatic hydrolysis of RNA in workers of the ant Nylanderia pubens. Journal of Insect Science. 12(146):1-8.

Interpretive Summary: The Caribbean crazy ant is a recently introduced ant species in the United States. In the last several years, it has spread throughout Florida and Texas with often heavily infested local areas. Control efforts have been hampered because of insecticide labeling issues and lack of biological control agents for this species. Furthermore, the biology of this species is unknown. While preparing crazy ant specimens for use in gene library creation, scientists at the ARS, Imported Fire Ant and Household Insects Research Unit, and University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, discovered that adult ants contain a strong endogenous entity that destroys nucleic acids which, consequently, renders the ant’s genes useless in molecular assays. Although the entity was not able to be identified, methods were developed that permitted satisfactory purification of the ant’s genomic material and molecular examination of its genes.

Technical Abstract: During preparation of total RNA from Nylanderia pubens (Forel) workers for use in expression library construction, severe RNA degradation consistently occurred that was masked by spectrophotometric analysis but clearly evident by microfluidic-based assay. Although not specifically identified, the degrading entity was endogenous and localized to the abdomen (terminal abdominal segments) of adult ants. RNA degradation was not observed in preparations of larvae, non-melanized pupae or eggs. Various RNase and protease inhibitors had no protective effect. However, the metal chelating agent, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) prevented RNA degradation and provides insight into the occurrence.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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