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Durham University

Department of Biosciences


Publication details for Dr Elaine Fitches

Cao, Min, Gatehouse, John & Fitches, Elaine (2018). A Systematic Study of RNAi Effects and dsRNA Stability in Tribolium castaneum and Acyrthosiphon pisum, Following Injection and Ingestion of Analogous dsRNAs. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 19(4): 1079.

Author(s) from Durham


RNA interference (RNAi) effects in insects are highly variable and may be largely dependent upon the stability of introduced double-stranded RNAs to digestion by nucleases. Here, we report a systematic comparison of RNAi effects in susceptible red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum) and recalcitrant pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) following delivery of dsRNAs of identical length targeting expression of V-type ATPase subunit E (VTE) and inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) genes. Injection and ingestion of VTE and IAP dsRNAs resulted in up to 100% mortality of T. castaneum larvae and sustained suppression (>80%) of transcript levels. In A. pisum, injection of VTE but not IAP dsRNA resulted in up to 65% mortality and transient suppression (ca. 40%) of VTE transcript levels. Feeding aphids on VTE dsRNA reduced growth and fecundity although no evidence for gene suppression was obtained. Rapid degradation of dsRNAs by aphid salivary, haemolymph and gut nucleases contrasted with stability in T. castaneum larvae where it appears that exo-nuclease activity is responsible for relatively slow digestion of dsRNAs. This is the first study to directly compare RNAi effects and dsRNA stability in receptive and refractory insect species and provides further evidence that dsRNA susceptibility to nucleases is a key factor in determining RNAi efficiency.