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J Insect Sci. 2018 May 1;18(3). doi: 10.1093/jisesa/iey045.

RNA Interference of the Muscle Actin Gene in Bed Bugs: Exploring Injection Versus Topical Application for dsRNA Delivery.

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Department of Entomology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE.


Bed bugs are one the most troublesome household pests that feed primarily on human blood. RNA interference (RNAi) is currently being pursued as a potential tool for insect population management and has shown efficacy against some phytophagous insects. We evaluated the different techniques to deliver dsRNA specific to bed bug muscle actin (dsactin) into bed bugs. Initially, stability of dsRNA in human blood was studied to evaluate the feasibility of feeding method. Adult bed bugs were injected with dsRNA between last thoracic segment and first abdominal segment on the ventral side, with a dose of 0.2 µg dsactin per insect. In addition to injection, dsactin was mixed in acetone and treated topically in the abdomens of fifth stage nymphs. We found the quick degradation of dsRNA in blood. Injection of dsactin caused significant depletion of actin transcripts and substantial reduction in oviposition and lethality in female adults. Topically treated dsRNA in fifth stage nymphs had no effect on actin mRNA expression and survival. Our results demonstrated that injection is a reliable method of dsRNA delivery into bed bugs while topical treatment was not successful. This research provides an understanding on effective delivery methods of dsRNA into bed bugs for functional genomics research and feasibility of the RNAi based molecules for pest management purposes.

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