RNA interference: a promising biopesticide strategy against the African Sweetpotato Weevil Cylas brunneus
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The African sweetpotato weevil Cylas brunneus is one of the most devastating pests affecting the production of sweetpotatoes, an important staple food in Sub-Saharan Africa. Current available control methods against this coleopteran pest are limited. In this study, we analyzed the potential of RNA interference as a novel crop protection strategy against this insect pest. First, the C. brunneus transcriptome was sequenced and RNAi functionality was confirmed by successfully silencing the laccase2 gene. Next, 24 potential target genes were chosen, based on their critical role in vital biological processes. A first screening via injection of gene-specific dsRNAs showed that the dsRNAs were highly toxic for C. brunneus. Injected doses of 200ng/mg body weight led to mortality rates of 90% or higher for 14 of the 24 tested genes after 14 days. The three best performing dsRNAs, targeting pros alpha 2, rps13 and the homolog of Diabrotica virgifera snf7, were then used in further feeding trials to investigate RNAi by oral delivery. Different concentrations of dsRNAs mixed with artificial diet were tested and concentrations as low as 1 mu g dsRNA/mL diet led to significant mortality rates higher than 50%. These results proved that dsRNAs targeting essential genes show great potential to control C. brunneus.
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