Symbiont-mediated RNA interference in insects

Miranda M. A. Whitten, Paul D. Facey, Ricardo Del Sol, Lorena T. Fernández-Martínez, Meirwyn C. Evans, Jacob J. Mitchell, Owen G. Bodger, Paul J. Dyson

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RNA interference (RNAi) methods for insects are often limited by problems with double-stranded (ds) RNA delivery, which restricts reverse genetics studies and the development of RNAi-based biocides.We therefore delegated to insect symbiotic bacteria the task of: (i) constitutive dsRNA synthesis and (ii) trauma-free delivery. RNaseIII-deficient, dsRNA-expressing bacterial strains were created from the symbionts of two very diverse pest species: a long-lived blood-sucking bug, Rhodnius prolixus, and a short-lived globally invasive polyphagous agricultural pest, western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis). When ingested, the manipulated bacteria colonized the insects, successfully competed with the wild-type microflora, and sustainably mediated systemic knockdown phenotypes that were horizontally transmissible. This represents a significant advance in the ability to deliver RNAi, potentially to a large range of non-model insects.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20160042
Pages (from-to)20160042
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1825
Early online date24 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2016


  • Biocide
  • Chagas disease
  • Insect
  • RNA interference
  • Symbiotic bacteria


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