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RNA interference based approach to down regulate osmoregulators of whitefly (Bemisia tabaci): Potential technology for the control of whitefly

Amir Raza, Hassan Jamil Malik, Muhammad Shafiq, Imran Amin, Jodi A. Schffler, Brian E. Scheffler, Shahid Mansoor
Plos one 2016 v.11 no.4 pp. e0153883
Bemisia tabaci, Nicotiana tabacum, RNA interference, alpha-glucosidase, aquaporins, bioassays, cotton, crops, diet, double-stranded RNA, gene expression, genes, genomics, insect control, insects, mortality, osmoregulation, osmotic pressure, pests, phloem, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, sap, sieves, small interfering RNA, sucrose alpha-glucosidase, sugars, tobacco, transgenic plants
Over the past decade RNA interference (RNAi) technology has emerged as a successful tool not only for functional genomics, but in planta expression of short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) that could offer great potential for insect pest management. The diet of insects feeding exclusively on phloem sieves contains water and sugars as main components, and the uptake of the liquid food greatly depends on the osmotic pressure within the insect body. Based on this physiological mechanism, transgenic plants of Nicotiana tabacum were generated expressing double stranded RNA (dsRNA) against both aquaporin (AQP) and a sucrase gene, alpha glucosidase (AGLU). These two genes are involved in osmotic pressure maintenance particularly in sap sucking insects, and the aim was to disrupt osmoregulation within the insect ultimately leading to mortality. Real time quantitative PCR (RTqPCR) was performed to assess the suppression of gene expression in Bemisia tabaci (B. tabaci) and mortality was recorded during transgenic tobacco feeding bioassays. Feeding of insects on plants expressing dsRNA significantly reduced the transcript level of the target genes in B. tabaci after six days of feeding and more than 70% mortality was observed in B. tabaci fed on transgenic plants compared to the control plants. Our data shows that downregulation of genes related to osmoregulation may find practical applications for the control of this important pest in cotton and other crops.