Int J Biol Sci 2015; 11(1):67-74. doi:10.7150/ijbs.10468 This issue
Key Laboratory of Oasis Eco-agriculture, College of Agriculture, Shihezi University, Shihezi 832003, China.
Insect pests have caused noticeable economic losses in agriculture, and the heavy use of insecticide to control pests not only brings the threats of insecticide resistance but also causes the great pollution to foods and the environment. Transgenic plants producing double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) directed against insect genes have been is currently developed for protection against insect pests. In this study, we used this technology to silence the arginine kinase (AK) gene of Helicoverpa armigera (HaAK), encoding a phosphotransferase that plays a critical role in cellular energy metabolism in invertebrate. Transgenic Arabidopsis plants producing HaAK dsRNA were generated by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. The maximal mortality rate of 55% was reached when H. armigera first-instar larvae were fed with transgenic plant leaves for 3 days, which was dramatically higher than the 18% mortality recorded in the control group. Moreover, the ingestion of transgenic plants significantly retarded larval growth, and the transcript levels of HaAK were also knocked down by up to 52%. The feeding bioassays further indicated that the inhibition efficiency was correlated with the integrity and concentration of the produced HaAK dsRNA in transgenic plants. These results strongly show that the resistance to H. armigera was improved in transgenic Arabidopsis plants, suggesting that the RNAi targeting of AK has the potential for the control of insect pests.
Keywords: Arginine kinase, Helicoverpa armigera, RNAi, transgenic plants, double-stranded RNA, pest control.