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Research Project: Sustainable Approaches for Pest Management in Vegetable Crops

Location: Vegetable Research

Title: Debugging: strategies and considerations for efficient RNAi-mediated control of the whitefly Bemisia tabaci

Author
item SHELBY, EMILY - UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
item MOSS, JEANETTE - UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
item ANDREASON, SHARON - OAK RIDGE INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE AND EDUCATION (ORISE)
item Simmons, Alvin
item MOORE, ALLEN - UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
item MOORE, PATRICIA - UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA

Submitted to: Insects
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/20/2020
Publication Date: 10/22/2020
Citation: Shelby, E.A., Moss, J.B., Andreason, S.A., Simmons, A.M., Moore, A.J., Moore, P.J. 2020. Debugging: strategies and considerations for efficient RNAi-mediated control of the whitefly Bemisia tabaci. Insects. 11 (11):723. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11110723.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11110723

Interpretive Summary: The whitefly Bemisia tabaci is a crop pest insect that is difficult to control through commercially available methods. Technology that inhibits gene expression is a promising avenue for controlling whiteflies and other pests. Here, we discuss considerations for using gene silencing technology as a pest management strategy for whiteflies in a way that is specific to this pest, which will address short- and long- term issues of sustainability. We also provide a way of selecting target genes based on their roles in the life history of the insect, which will reduce the potential for unintended negative consequences. This is information that is useful to the scientific community to improve the management of whiteflies in crops.

Technical Abstract: The whitefly Bemisia tabaci is a globally important pest that is difficult to control through insecticides, transgenic crops, and natural enemies. Post-transcriptional gene silencing through RNA interference (RNAi) has shown potential as a pest management strategy against B. tabaci. While genomic data and other resources are available to create highly effective customizable pest management strategies with RNAi, current applications do not capitalize on species-specific biology. This lack of specificity has the potential to have substantial ecological impacts. Here, we discuss both short- and long- term considerations for sustainable RNAi pest management strategies for B. tabaci, focusing on the need for species specificity incorporating both life history and population genetic considerations. We provide a conceptual framework for selecting sublethal target genes based on their involvement in physiological pathways, which has the greatest potential to ameliorate unintended negative consequences. We suggest that these considerations allow an integrated pest management approach, with fewer negative ecological impacts and reduced likelihood of the evolution of resistant populations.