Heritable genome editing with CRISPR/Cas9 induces anosmia in a crop pest moth

Sci Rep. 2016 Jul 12;6:29620. doi: 10.1038/srep29620.


Lepidoptera suffer critical lack of genetic tools and heritable genome edition has been achieved only in a few model species. Here we demonstrate that the CRISPR/Cas9 system is highly efficient for genome editing in a non-model crop pest Lepidoptera, the noctuid moth Spodoptera littoralis. We knocked-out the olfactory receptor co-receptor Orco gene to investigate its function in Lepidoptera olfaction. We find that 89.6% of the injected individuals carried Orco mutations, 70% of which transmitted them to the next generation. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated Orco knockout caused defects in plant odor and sex pheromone olfactory detection in homozygous individuals. Our work genetically defines Orco as an essential OR partner for both host and mate detection in Lepidoptera, and demonstrates that CRISPR/Cas9 is a simple and highly efficient genome editing technique in noctuid pests opening new routes for gene function analysis and the development of novel pest control strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems*
  • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats
  • Gene Editing / methods*
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Olfaction Disorders / genetics*
  • Receptors, Odorant / genetics
  • Sex Attractants / genetics
  • Spodoptera / genetics*
  • Spodoptera / physiology


  • Insect Proteins
  • Receptors, Odorant
  • Sex Attractants