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ARS Home » Plains Area » Manhattan, Kansas » Center for Grain and Animal Health Research » Stored Product Insect and Engineering Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #330803

Title: Gene disruption technologies have the potential to transform stored product insect pest control

item Perkin, Lindsey
item Adrianos, Sherry
item Oppert, Brenda

Submitted to: Insects
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/9/2016
Publication Date: 9/19/2016
Publication URL:
Citation: Perkin, L.C., Adrianos, S.L., Oppert, B.S. 2016. Gene disruption technologies have the potential to transform stored product insect pest control. Insects. 7(3):46. doi:10.3390/insects7030046.

Interpretive Summary: Insects that infest and contaminate stored grain or processed grain products are called stored product pests and cause considerable damage to these foods. This damage affects everyone from producers to consumers with increased costs of food and grain products due to increasing costs of insect pest control and mitigation. The current defense against stored product pest insects is pesticides, but many insect populations are becoming resistant or are dangerous to the environment. Gene disruption technologies such as RNA interference (RNAi) and clustered regularly interspaced palindromic repeats (CRISPR), allow for gene or gene expression modifications that may help insecticides be more effective or help researchers to find new and better insect control methods. In this review we summarize the current information available for these technologies using the model stored product pest beetle, Tribolium castaneum. We describe both RNAi and CRISPR technologies, summarize the current literature, highlight potential complications, and point out future research needs.

Technical Abstract: Stored product insects feed on grains and processed commodities manufactured from grain post-harvest, reducing the nutritional value and contaminating food. Currently, the main defense against stored product insect pests is the pesticide fumigant phosphine. Phosphine is highly toxic to all animals, but is the most effective and economical control method, and thus is used extensively worldwide. However, many insect populations have become resistant to phosphine, in some cases to very high levels. New, environmentally benign and more effective control strategies are needed for stored product pests. RNA interference (RNAi) may overcome pesticide resistance by targeting expression of genes that contribute to resistance in insects. Most data on RNAi in stored product insects is from the model coleopteran, Tribolium castaneum, since it has a strong RNAi response via injection of dsRNA in any life stage. Additionally, recent advances in CRISPR technology have been suggested as a potential resource for new pest control strategies. In this review we discuss background information on both gene disruption technologies, summarize the advances made in terms of molecular pest management in stored product insects, mainly T. castaneum, as well as complications and future needs.