Letter

Control of coleopteran insect pests through RNA interference

  • Nature Biotechnology volume 25, pages 13221326 (2007)
  • doi:10.1038/nbt1359
  • Download Citation
Received:
Accepted:
Published:

Subjects

Abstract

Commercial biotechnology solutions for controlling lepidopteran and coleopteran insect pests on crops depend on the expression of Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal proteins1,2, most of which permeabilize the membranes of gut epithelial cells of susceptible insects3. However, insect control strategies involving a different mode of action would be valuable for managing the emergence of insect resistance. Toward this end, we demonstrate that ingestion of double-stranded (ds)RNAs supplied in an artificial diet triggers RNA interference in several coleopteran species, most notably the western corn rootworm (WCR) Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte. This may result in larval stunting and mortality. Transgenic corn plants engineered to express WCR dsRNAs show a significant reduction in WCR feeding damage in a growth chamber assay, suggesting that the RNAi pathway can be exploited to control insect pests via in planta expression of a dsRNA.

  • Subscribe to Nature Biotechnology for full access:

    $250

    Subscribe

Additional access options:

Already a subscriber?  Log in  now or  Register  for online access.

References

  1. 1.

    Global review of commercialized transgenic crops. Curr. Sci. 84, 303–309 (2003).

  2. 2.

    et al. A method of controlling corn rootworm feeding using a Bacillus thuringiensis protein expressed in transgenic maize. Crop Sci. 45, 931–938 (2005).

  3. 3.

    , & Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal proteins: Molecular mode of action. in Progress in Nucleic Acid Research and Molecular Biology 60, 1–27 (1998).

  4. 4.

    RNA interference. Nature 418, 244–251 (2002).

  5. 5.

    RNA silencing in plants. Nature 431, 356–363 (2004).

  6. 6.

    et al. Potent and specific genetic interference by double-stranded RNA in Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature 391, 806–811 (1998).

  7. 7.

    & Specific interference by ingested dsRNA. Nature 395, 854 (1998).

  8. 8.

    , , & Ingestion of bacterially expressed double-stranded RNA inhibits gene expression in planarians. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 100, 11861–11865 (2003).

  9. 9.

    et al. Capillary feeding of specific dsRNA induces silencing of the isac gene in nymphal Ixodes scapularis ticks. Insect Mol. Biol. 14, 443–452 (2005).

  10. 10.

    , & Parental RNAi in Tribolium (Coleoptera). Curr. Biol. 12, R85–R86 (2002).

  11. 11.

    & Larval RNAi in Tribolium (Coleoptera) for analyzing adult development. Dev. Genes Evol. 214, 575–578 (2004).

  12. 12.

    , , , & Silencing of midgut aminopeptidase N of Spodoptera litura by double-stranded RNA establishes its role as Bacillus thuringiensis toxin receptor. J. Biol. Chem. 277, 46849–46851 (2002).

  13. 13.

    et al. RNA interference in the light brown apple moth, Epiphyas postvittana (Walker) induced by double-stranded RNA feeding. Insect Mol. Biol. 15, 383–391 (2006).

  14. 14.

    , , , & Nucleic acid sequences from Diabrotica virgifera virgifera Le Conte and the uses thereof. US patent application publication number 2007–0050860.

  15. 15.

    , & Systemic RNAi in C-elegans requires the putative transmembrane protein SID-1. Science 295, 2456–2459 (2002).

  16. 16.

    Honeybee Genome Sequencing Consortium Insights into social insects from the genome of the honeybee Apis mellifera. Nature 443, 931–949 (2006).

  17. 17.

    , , & Duplication of CaMV 35S promoter sequences creates a strong enhancer for plant genes. Science 236, 1299–1302 (1987).

  18. 18.

    & A wheat cDNA clone which is homologous to the 17 kd heat-shock protein gene family of soybean. Nucleic Acids Res. 17, 1764 (1989).

  19. 19.

    & Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation method. US patent number 6,603,061 (2003).

  20. 20.

    , , & Node-Injury Scale to Evaluate Root Injury by Corn Rootworms (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 98, 1–8 (2005).

  21. 21.

    , , , & Corn rootworms. in Handbook of corn insects (eds. Steffey, K. et al.) 61–68, (Entomological Society of America, Lanham, Maryland, 1999).

  22. 22.

    , , & Development of an artificial diet for the western corn rootworm. Entomol. Exp. Appl. 105, 1–11 (2002).

  23. 23.

    , , & Improvements in laboratory rearing of the southern corn rootworm, Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi Barber (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). J. Econ. Entomol. 78, 290–293 (1985).

  24. 24.

    & Molecular Cloning (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor, 2001).

  25. 25.

    et al. Evolution of microRNA genes by inverted duplication of target gene sequences in Arabidopsis thaliana. Nat. Genet. 36, 1282–1290 (2004).

Download references

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Tom Adams, Claire CaJacob and Steve Padgette for their support and helpful discussions; Wendy Maddelein and Steffy Denorme for molecular cloning support and dsRNA preparations; David Kovalic, Wei Wu, Marc Logghe and Irene Nooren for bioinformatics support; Robin Camp and Shubha Subbarao for assistance with plant feeding assays; Tim Coombe, Barbara Wiggins, Heidi Windler and Rich Yingling for corn transformation, propagation and analysis.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Monsanto Company, 700 Chesterfield Parkway West, Chesterfield, Missouri 63017-1732, USA.

    • James A Baum
    • , William Clinton
    • , Gregory R Heck
    • , Oliver Ilagan
    • , Scott Johnson
    • , Tichafa Munyikwa
    • , Michael Pleau
    • , Ty Vaughn
    •  & James Roberts
  2. Devgen N.V., Technologiepark 30, B-9052 Ghent–Zwijnaarde, Belgium.

    • Thierry Bogaert
    • , Pascale Feldmann
    •  & Geert Plaetinck

Authors

  1. Search for James A Baum in:

  2. Search for Thierry Bogaert in:

  3. Search for William Clinton in:

  4. Search for Gregory R Heck in:

  5. Search for Pascale Feldmann in:

  6. Search for Oliver Ilagan in:

  7. Search for Scott Johnson in:

  8. Search for Geert Plaetinck in:

  9. Search for Tichafa Munyikwa in:

  10. Search for Michael Pleau in:

  11. Search for Ty Vaughn in:

  12. Search for James Roberts in:

Competing interests

The following authors were employed by Monsanto while engaged in the research project described in this publication: J.A.B., W.C., G.R.H., T.M., M.P., J.R. and T.V.; and the following authors were employed by Devgen: T.B., P.F. and G.P.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to James Roberts.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Text and Figures

    Supplementary Figures 1–10, Supplementary Table 1