Aditi D. Singh, Sylvia Wong, Calen P. Ryan, Steven Whyard
Journal of Insect Science 13 (69), 1-18, (1 July 2013) https://doi.org/10.1673/031.013.6901
KEYWORDS: β-tubulin, chitin synthase, heat shock protein 83, insecticides, RNA interference
RNA interference has already proven itself to be a highly versatile molecular biology tool for understanding gene function in a limited number of insect species, but its widespread use in other species will be dependent on the development of easier methods of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) delivery. This study demonstrates that RNA interference can be induced in the mosquito Aedes aegypti L. (Diptera: Culicidae) simply by soaking larvae in a solution of dsRNA for two hours. The mRNA transcripts for β-tubulin, chitin synthase-1 and -2, and heat shock protein 83 were reduced between 30 and 50% three days post-dsRNA treatment. The dsRNA was mixed with a visible dye to identify those individuals that fed on the dsRNA, and based on an absence of RNA interference in those individuals that contained no dye within their guts, the primary route of entry of dsRNA is likely through the gut epithelium. RNA interference was systemic in the insects, inducing measurable knock down of gene expression in tissues beyond the gut. Silencing of the β-tubulin and chitin synthase-1 genes resulted in reduced growth and/or mortality of the larvae, demonstrating the utility of dsRNA as a potential mosquito larvicide. Silencing of chitin synthase-2 did not induce mortality in the larvae, and silencing of heat shock protein 83 only induced mortality in the insects if they were subsequently subjected to a heat stress. Drosophila melanogaster Meigen (Diptera: Drosophilidae) larvae were also soaked in dsRNA designed to specifically target either their own β-tubulin gene, or that of A. aegypti, and significant mortality was only seen in larvae treated with dsRNA targeting their own gene, which suggests that dsRNA pesticides could be designed to be species-limited.