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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Newark, Delaware » Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #348720

Research Project: Biological Control of Invasive Wood-Boring Insect Pests such as Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorned Beetle

Location: Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Unit

Title: Identification of highly effective target genes for RNAi-mediated control of emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis

Author
item RODRIGUES, THAIS - UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY
item Duan, Jian
item RIESKE, LYNNE - UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY
item PALLI, SUBBA - UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY

Submitted to: Scientific Reports
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/7/2018
Publication Date: 3/22/2018
Citation: Rodrigues, T.B., Duan, J.J., Rieske, L.K., Palli, S.R. 2018. Identification of highly effective target genes for RNAi-mediated control of emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis. Scientific Reports. 8:5020. http://doi.org/10.1038/S41598-018-23216-6.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/S41598-018-23216-6

Interpretive Summary: Emerald Ash borer (EAB), inadvertently introduced from to Asia in the 1990s, has killed millions of North American ash trees and spread to 31 U.S. States and two Canadian provinces. Recent study has shown that gene-based pest control technology such as RNA interference (RNAi) may be highly effective against emerald ash borer (EAB). This gene-based pest control technology via ingestion of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) targeting specific genes causes gene silencing and mortality in EAB larvae and adults. We tested 13 candidate genes in EAB larvae and adults and selected the most effective target genes for further testing against EAB adults and a non-target species, the flour beetle. We identified two target genes for which dsRNA ingestion caused over 90% mortality of EAB larvae and adults. Treatment with a mixture of both dsRNAs worked better than either one alone. These EAB dsRNAs had no effect on the nontarget flour beetle, indicating high specificity of this control method. The two genes identified could be used in further development of RNAib control technology against EAB that would be highly effective and specific to this pest.

Technical Abstract: Recent study has shown that RNA interference (RNAi) is efficient in emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis, and that ingestion of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) targeting specific genes causes gene silencing and mortality in neonates. Here we report on the identification of highly effective target genes for RNAi-mediated control of EAB. We screened 13 candidate genes in neonate larvae and selected the most effective target genes for further investigation, including their effect on EAB adults and on a non-target organism, Tribolium castaneum. The two most efficient target genes selected, hsp (heat shock 70-kDa protein cognate 3) and shi (shibire), caused up to 90% mortality of larvae and adults. In EAB eggs, larvae, and adults, the hsp is expressed at higher levels when compared to that of shi. Feeding dsHSP and dsSHI to neonate larvae or injection into adults caused knockdown of both target genes and mortality of larvae and adults. Administration of a mixture of both dsRNAs worked better than either dsRNA by itself. In contrast, injection of EAB.dsHSP and EAB.dsSHI did not cause mortality in T. castaneum. Thus, the two genes identified cause high mortality in the EAB with no apparent nontarget effects in the red flour beetle, and could be used in RNAi-mediated control of this invasive pest.