RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated gene silencing was explored for the control of sap-sucking pest Bemisia tabaci, commonly known as whitefly. dsRNAs and siRNAs were synthesized from five different genes – actin ortholog, ADP/ATP translocase, 𝛼-tubulin, ribosomal protein L9 (RPL9) and V-ATPase A subunit. A simplified insect bioassay method was developed for the delivery of ds/siRNA through the oral route, and efficacy was evaluated. ds/siRNA caused 29–97% mortality after 6 days of feeding. Each insect ingested nearly 150 nl of insect diet per day, which contained a maximum of 6 ng of RNA. Knocking down the expression of RPL9 and V-ATPase A caused higher mortality with LC50 11.21 and 3.08 𝜇g/ml, respectively, as compared to other genes. Semi-quantitative PCR of the treated insects showed significant decrease in the level of RPL9 and V-ATPase A transcripts. siRNAs were found stable in the insect diet for at least 7 days at the room temperature. Phloem-specific expression of dsRNAs of RPL9 and V-ATPase A in transgenic plants for the protection against whiteflies might be an interesting application of this technology.
Volume 45, 2020
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