Date of this Version
Published in Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology 148 (2018), pp 103–110.
The use of transgenic crops that induce silencing of essential genes using double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) through RNA interference (RNAi) in western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera, is likely to be an important component of new technologies for the control of this important corn pest. Previous studies have demonstrated that the dsRNA response in D. v. virgifera depends on the presence of RNAi pathway genes including Dicer-2 and Argonaute 2, and that down-regulation of these genes limits the lethality of environmental dsRNA. A potential resistance mechanism to lethal dsRNA may involve loss of function of RNAi pathway genes. However, the potential for resistance to evolve may depend on whether these pathway genes have essential functions such that the loss of function of core proteins in the RNAi pathway will have fitness costs in D. v. virgifera. Fitness costs associated with potential resistance mechanisms have a central role in determining how resistance can evolve to RNAi technologies in western corn rootworm. We evaluated the effect of dsRNA and microRNA pathway gene knockdown on the development of D. v. virgifera larvae through short-term and long-term exposures to dsRNA for Dicer and Argonaute genes. Downregulation of Argonaute 2, Dicer-2, Dicer-1 did not significantly affect larval survivorship or development through short and long-term exposure to dsRNA. However, downregulation of Argonaute 1 reduced larval survivorship and delayed development. The implications of these results as they relate to D. v. virgifera resistance to lethal dsRNA are discussed.