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Resistance to RNA interference by plant-derived double-stranded RNAs but not plant-derived short interfering RNAs in Helicoverpa armigera

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Heckel,  David G.
Department of Entomology, Prof. D. G. Heckel, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Fu, J., Xu, S., Lu, H., Li, F., Li, S., Chang, L., et al. (2022). Resistance to RNA interference by plant-derived double-stranded RNAs but not plant-derived short interfering RNAs in Helicoverpa armigera. Plant, Cell and Environment, 45(6), 1930-1941. doi:10.1111/pce.14314.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-5AB0-A
Abstract
Abstract Plant-mediated RNA interference (RNAi) has emerged as a promising technology for pest control through expression of double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) targeted against essential insect genes. However, little is known about the underlying molecular mechanisms and whether long dsRNA or short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are the effective triggers of the RNAi response. Here we generated transplastomic and nuclear transgenic tobacco plants expressing dsRNA against the Helicoverpa armigera ATPaseH gene. We showed that expression of long dsRNA of HaATPaseH was at least three orders of magnitude higher in transplastomic plants than in transgenic plants. HaATPaseH-derived siRNAs are absent from transplastomic plants, while they are abundant in transgenic plants. Feeding transgenic plants to H. armigera larvae reduced gene expression of HaATPaseH and delayed growth. Surprisingly, no effect of transplastomic plants on insect growth was observed, despite efficient dsRNA expression in plastids. Furthermore, we found that dsRNA ingested by H. armigera feeding on transplastomic plants was rapidly degraded in the intestinal fluid. In contrast, siRNAs are relatively stable in the digestive system. These results suggest that plant-derived siRNAs may be more effective triggers of RNAi in Lepidoptera than dsRNAs, which will aid the optimization of the strategies for plant-mediated RNAi to pest control. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.