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Developing an in vivo toxicity assay for RNAi risk assessment in honey bees, Apis mellifera L

Vélez, Ana María, Jurzenski, Jessica, Matz, Natalie, Zhou, Xuguo, Wang, Haichuan, Ellis, Marion, Siegfried, Blair D.
Chemosphere 2016 v.144 pp. 1083-1090
Apis mellifera, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera, RNA interference, adults, corn, dietary exposure, double-stranded RNA, eclosion, environmental assessment, gene expression, honey bees, insecticidal properties, larvae, larval development, longevity, pollen, risk assessment process, toxicity
Maize plants expressing dsRNA for the management of Diabrotica virgifera virgifera are likely to be commercially available by the end of this decade. Honey bees, Apis mellifera, can potentially be exposed to pollen from transformed maize expressing dsRNA. Consequently, evaluation of the biological impacts of RNAi in honey bees is a fundamental component for ecological risk assessment. The insecticidal activity of a known lethal dsRNA target for D. v. virgifera, the vATPase subunit A, was evaluated in larval and adult honey bees. Activity of both D. v. virgifera (Dvv)- and A. mellifera (Am)-specific dsRNA was tested by dietary exposure to dsRNA. Larval development, survival, adult eclosion, adult life span and relative gene expression were evaluated. The results of these tests indicated that Dvv vATPase-A dsRNA has limited effects on larval and adult honey bee survival. Importantly, no effects were observed upon exposure of Am vATPase-A dsRNA suggesting that the lack of response involves factors other than sequence specificity. The results from this study provide guidance for future RNAi risk analyses and for the development of a risk assessment framework that incorporates similar hazard assessments.