Knockdown of RNA interference pathway genes impacts the fitness of western corn rootworm.Sci Rep. 2018 05 18; 8(1):7858.SR
Western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera) is a serious agricultural pest known for its high adaptability to various management strategies, giving rise to a continual need for new control options. Transgenic maize expressing insecticidal RNAs represents a novel mode of action for rootworm management that is dependent on the RNA interference (RNAi) pathways of the insect for efficacy. Preliminary evidence suggests that western corn rootworm could develop broad resistance to all insecticidal RNAs through changes in RNAi pathway genes; however, the likelihood of field-evolved resistance occurring through this mechanism remains unclear. In the current study, eight key genes involved in facilitating interference in the microRNA and small interfering RNA pathways were targeted for knockdown in order to evaluate impact on fitness of western corn rootworm. These genes include drosha, dicer-1, dicer-2, pasha, loquacious, r2d2, argonaute 1, and argonaute 2. Depletion of targeted transcripts in rootworm larvae led to changes in microRNA expression, decreased ability to pupate, reduced adult beetle emergence, and diminished reproductive capacity. The observed effects do not support evolution of resistance through changes in expression of these eight genes due to reduced insect fitness.