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PLoS One. 2013 Sep 9;8(9):e73657. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073657. eCollection 2013.

Use of recombinant tobacco mosaic virus to achieve RNA interference in plants against the citrus mealybug, Planococcus citri (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae).

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  • 1National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), Faisalabad, Pakistan ; Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS), Islamabad, Pakistan ; Department of Plant Pathology, University of California Davis, Davis, California, United States of America.


The citrus mealybug, Planococcus citri, is an important plant pest with a very broad plant host range. P. citri is a phloem feeder and loss of plant vigor and stunting are characteristic symptoms induced on a range of host plants, but P. citri also reduces fruit quality and causes fruit drop leading to significant yield reductions. Better strategies for managing this pest are greatly needed. RNA interference (RNAi) is an emerging tool for functional genomics studies and is being investigated as a practical tool for highly targeted insect control. Here we investigated whether RNAi effects can be induced in P. citri and whether candidate mRNAs could be identified as possible targets for RNAi-based P. citri control. RNAi effects were induced in P. citri, as demonstrated by specific target reductions of P. citri actin, chitin synthase 1 and V-ATPase mRNAs after injection of the corresponding specific double-stranded RNA inducers. We also used recombinant Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) to express these RNAi effectors in Nicotiana benthamiana plants. We found that P. citri showed lower fecundity and pronounced death of crawlers after feeding on recombinant TMV-infected plants. Taken together, our data show that actin, chitin synthase 1 and V-ATPase mRNAs are potential targets for RNAi against P. citri, and that recombinant TMV is an effective tool for evaluating candidate RNAi effectors in plants.

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