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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: RNAi for management of Asian long-horned beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis: identification of target genes

item DHANDAPANI, RAMESH - University Of Kentucky
item GURUSAMY, DHANDAPANI - University Of Kentucky
item Duan, Jian
item PALLI, SUBBA - University Of Kentucky

Submitted to: Journal of Pest Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/16/2020
Publication Date: 1/28/2020
Citation: Dhandapani, R.K., Gurusamy, D., Duan, J.J., Palli, S.R. 2020. RNAi for management of Asian long-horned beetle, Anoplophora glabripennis: identification of target genes. Journal of Pest Science. 93:823–832.

Interpretive Summary: Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is a high-risk invasive forest pest that has established small populations in the United States, Canada and several countries in Europe. If not successfully eradicated or controlled in the newly invaded regions, this beetle has the potential to devastate the native forest ecosystems by feeding on over 100 species of hardwood trees. Development of a new control method that specifically targets the pest but has no adverse impacts on environment and other organisms would be ideal for integration with the current ALB eradication or control program. With scientists from the University of Kentucky, we screened a selection of 48 candidate genes in ALB larvae and identified several genes that could be impacted by using a genetic RNAi-based control approach. We showed that feeding of heat-killed bacteria containing inactivated dsRNA induced mortality in both ALB larvae and adults, indicating that this approach has potential as a pest control method for ALB management.

Technical Abstract: The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), Anoplophora glabripennis, is a serious invasive forest pest in several countries, including the USA. Currently, there are no effective methods available to manage this pest without adverse impacts on environment. RNA interference (RNAi) technology may be able to help in controlling this invasive pest with minimal adverse effects. To identify target genes for selective control of ALB, we screened 48 candidate genes in larvae and selected several for testing that we believe are most likely to be effective. Injection of double-stranded RNA targeting the gene coding for the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) into larvae and adults resulted in a significant knockdown of this gene and caused 100% mortality in both larvae and adults. As microinjection of dsRNA is not a feasible option for field applications, delivery through an oral route was then attempted. Oral delivery of naked dsRNA did not cause mortality in either larvae or adults. However, feeding of heat-killed bacteria containing dsIAP or dsSNF7 induced mortality and knockdown of target genes in larvae and adults. We conclude that the utilization of heat-killed bacteria for delivery of dsRNA targeting the IAP or SNF7 genes could serve as a potential pest control method for ALB control.