Creating a Method to Transfer Genes into Spider Mites Using Eggs

Jenn Hoskins
1st May, 2024

Creating a Method to Transfer Genes into Spider Mites Using Eggs

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • At Shanxi Agricultural University, a new method to control spider mites using RNAi technology was developed
  • The technique involves soaking spider mite eggs in a solution that silences key survival genes
  • This RNAi egg-soaking method is more efficient and avoids the use of harmful chemicals
In the ongoing battle against agricultural pests, scientists have been seeking alternatives to traditional pesticides, which often lose effectiveness as pests develop resistance. One promising avenue of research involves RNA interference (RNAi), a natural cellular process that can be harnessed to silence specific genes within an organism. The recent approval of the first sprayable RNAi biopesticide, Ledprona, against the Colorado potato beetle marks a significant milestone in this field and opens the door to new methods of pest control. At Shanxi Agricultural University, researchers have taken a significant step forward in the application of RNAi technology for pest management by focusing on a notorious group of pests: spider mites[1]. These tiny creatures can wreak havoc on crops and are known for their rapid development of resistance to chemical treatments. The study conducted by the university offers a novel RNAi-based approach to controlling these pests. The study's primary achievement is the development of an egg-soaking method to deliver double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) directly to spider mite eggs. This technique involves immersing the eggs in a solution containing dsRNA, which is then absorbed and interferes with the expression of specific genes crucial for the mites' survival and development. The egg-soaking method proved to be the most efficient, convenient, and cost-effective compared to other dsRNA delivery methods. Several factors were found to influence the effectiveness of RNAi in spider mites, including the target genes selected for silencing, the concentration of dsRNA, the developmental stage of the mites, and the species of mite. Notably, the hawthorn spider mite (Amphitetranychus viennensis) showed greater sensitivity to RNAi than the two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae), and a dose-dependent effect was observed in both species. Moreover, the eggs and larvae stages were identified as the most vulnerable to dsRNA treatment. Interestingly, the study also explored how the dsRNA enters the mites and exerts its gene-silencing effects. The findings suggest that the egg-soaking RNAi method can cause gene silencing through both ingestion (stomach toxicity) and direct contact with the mite's body (contact toxicity). This dual mode of action enhances the potential of RNAi as a pest control strategy. The significance of this research is underscored by earlier studies that have laid the groundwork for RNAi in pest management. For example, previous work has shown that RNAi can be an effective reverse genetics tool in the two-spotted spider mite, allowing for high-throughput genetic screens and the identification of sensitive RNAi targets[2]. Additionally, the use of RNAi in controlling coleopteran pests through transgenic plants has demonstrated the potential for in planta expression of dsRNA to reduce pest damage[3]. However, the application of RNAi in pest control has faced challenges, such as ensuring the efficient delivery of dsRNA to the target organisms. The toxicity of certain surfactants like Silwet L-77, which are used to distribute test compounds on leaf surfaces, has been a concern in previous studies[4]. The egg-soaking method developed by Shanxi Agricultural University researchers circumvents such issues by directly targeting the eggs of spider mites, thereby avoiding the need for potentially harmful surfactants. The study from Shanxi Agricultural University represents a significant advancement in the field of RNAi-based pest management. By developing a practical and effective method for delivering dsRNA to spider mites, the researchers have opened a new avenue for controlling these pests without relying on traditional chemical pesticides. The egg-soaking RNAi method, with its demonstrated efficiency and dual mode of action, holds great promise as a sustainable solution for the agricultural industry's ongoing struggle against resistant pest populations.



Main Study

1) The development of an egg-soaking method for delivering dsRNAs into spider mites.

Published 30th April, 2024

Related Studies

2) Environmental RNA interference in two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae, reveals dsRNA processing requirements for efficient RNAi response.

3) Control of coleopteran insect pests through RNA interference.

Journal: Nature biotechnology, Issue: Vol 25, Issue 11, Nov 2007

4) Leaf disc-mediated oral delivery of small molecules in the absence of surfactant to the two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae.

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