Delivery of dsRNA for RNAi in insects: an overview and future directions

Insect Sci. 2013 Feb;20(1):4-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-7917.2012.01534.x. Epub 2012 Jul 5.


RNA interference (RNAi) refers to the process of exogenous double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) silencing the complementary endogenous messenger RNA. RNAi has been widely used in entomological research for functional genomics in a variety of insects and its potential for RNAi-based pest control has been increasingly emphasized mainly because of its high specificity. This review focuses on the approaches of introducing dsRNA into insect cells or insect bodies to induce effective RNAi. The three most common delivery methods, namely, microinjection, ingestion, and soaking, are illustrated in details and their advantages and limitations are summarized for purpose of feasible RNAi research. In this review, we also briefly introduce the two possible dsRNA uptake machineries, other dsRNA delivery methods and the history of RNAi in entomology. Factors that influence the specificity and efficiency of RNAi such as transfection reagents, selection of dsRNA region, length, and stability of dsRNA in RNAi research are discussed for further studies.

Keywords: RNA interference; dsRNA uptake; ingestion; microinjection; pest control; soaking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Transfer Techniques* / trends
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Insecta / genetics*
  • Insecta / metabolism
  • RNA, Double-Stranded / genetics*


  • Insect Proteins
  • RNA, Double-Stranded