Knockdown of ecdysteroid synthesis genes results in impaired molting and high mortality in Bactericera cockerelli (Hemiptera: Triozidae)

Jorge R. Paredes-Montero, Usman Arif, Judith K. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: RNA-mediated interference (RNAi) has become a promising biopesticide technology with which to direct sequence-specific gene knockdown of key targets in the potato psyllid (PoP) Bactericera cockerelli, resulting in significant mortality. In this study, three strategically selected target genes, ATF4, C7 and D24, essential for the biosynthesis and regulation of ecdysteroids, were evaluated for knockdown and mortality using oral delivery of individual, paired and all three double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs), in five replicated experiments. Knockdown was determined as the fold-change in gene expression using a quantitative polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: Knockdown of the D24 target, at 39%–45%, resulted in 51% PoP mortality by 10 days post-ingestion (dpi) of dsRNA. Knockdown of C7, at 38%–61%, resulted in 53% mortality by 10 dpi, whereas dsD24 ingestion resulted in 65% mortality by 10 dpi when dsD24 and dsC7 were co-delivered. Three phenotypes, INCOMEC, PREMEC and SWOLLEN, were observed at a frequency of 4%–12%, and are consistent with incomplete ecdysis in immature and/or adult PoP. Adult PoP exhibiting INCOMEC survived for several days but were unable to mate or fly, whereas SWOLLEN and PREMEC were lethal to the immature instars. Knockdown of ATF4 did not result in the mortality or malformations in immature and adult PoP. CONCLUSIONS: Compared with knockdown of individual D24 and C7 targets, significantly greater RNAi penetrance was achieved following delivery of combined dsRNAs. The highest knockdown that resulted in incomplete ecdysis and/or mortality was obtained for targets with predicted involvement in the same or interacting pathway(s). Knockdown of ATF4 was apparently “rescued” by uncharacterized compensatory gene(s) or effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2204-2214
Number of pages11
JournalPest management science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Asian citrus psyllid
  • biopesticide
  • double-stranded RNA
  • gene expression
  • potato psyllid
  • reverse genetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science


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