Control of coleopteran insect pests through RNA interference

Nat Biotechnol. 2007 Nov;25(11):1322-6. doi: 10.1038/nbt1359. Epub 2007 Nov 4.


Commercial biotechnology solutions for controlling lepidopteran and coleopteran insect pests on crops depend on the expression of Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal proteins, most of which permeabilize the membranes of gut epithelial cells of susceptible insects. However, insect control strategies involving a different mode of action would be valuable for managing the emergence of insect resistance. Toward this end, we demonstrate that ingestion of double-stranded (ds)RNAs supplied in an artificial diet triggers RNA interference in several coleopteran species, most notably the western corn rootworm (WCR) Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte. This may result in larval stunting and mortality. Transgenic corn plants engineered to express WCR dsRNAs show a significant reduction in WCR feeding damage in a growth chamber assay, suggesting that the RNAi pathway can be exploited to control insect pests via in planta expression of a dsRNA.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coleoptera / genetics*
  • Digestion
  • Pest Control, Biological / methods*
  • Plant Roots / genetics
  • Plant Roots / parasitology*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / parasitology*
  • RNA Interference*
  • RNA, Double-Stranded / genetics
  • RNA, Double-Stranded / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism*
  • Zea mays / genetics
  • Zea mays / parasitology*


  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • RNA, Small Interfering