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PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e38572. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038572. Epub 2012 Jun 7.

Improvement of pest resistance in transgenic tobacco plants expressing dsRNA of an insect-associated gene EcR.

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  • 1Key Laboratory of Insect Developmental and Evolutionary Biology, Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.

Abstract

The adoption of pest-resistant transgenic plants to reduce yield loss and pesticide utilization has been successful in the past three decades. Recently, transgenic plant expressing double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) targeting pest genes emerges as a promising strategy for improving pest resistance in crops. The steroid hormone, 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E), predominately controls insect molting via its nuclear receptor complex, EcR-USP. Here we report that pest resistance is improved in transgenic tobacco plants expressing dsRNA of EcR from the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, a serious lepidopteran pest for a variety of crops. When H. armigera larvae were fed with the whole transgenic tobacco plants expressing EcR dsRNA, resistance to H. armigera was significantly improved in transgenic plants. Meanwhile, when H. armigera larvae were fed with leaves of transgenic tobacco plants expressing EcR dsRNA, its EcR mRNA level was dramatically decreased causing molting defects and larval lethality. In addition, the transgenic tobacco plants expressing H. armigera EcR dsRNA were also resistant to another lepidopteran pest, the beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua, due to the high similarity in the nucleotide sequences of their EcR genes. This study provides additional evidence that transgenic plant expressing dsRNA targeting insect-associated genes is able to improve pest resistance.

PMID:
22685585
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3369839
Free PMC Article

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