The vast majority of lepidopterans, about 90%, are moths. Some moths, particularly their caterpillars, are major agricultural and forestry pests in many parts of the world. However, some other members of moths, such as the silkworm Bombyx mori
, are famous for their economic value. Fire et al. in 1998 initially found that exogenous double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) can silence the homolog endogenous mRNA in organisms, which is called RNA interference (RNAi). Soon after, the RNAi technique proved to be very promising not only in gene function determination but also in pest control. However, later studies demonstrate that performing RNAi in moths is not as straightforward as shown in other insect taxa. Nevertheless, since 2007, especially after 2010, an increasing number of reports have been published that describe successful RNAi experiments in different moth species either on gene function analysis or on pest management exploration. So far, more than 100 peer-reviewed papers have reported successful RNAi experiments in moths, covering 10 families and 25 species. By using classic and novel dsRNA delivery methods, these studies effectively silence the expression of various target genes and determine their function in larval development, reproduction, immunology, resistance against chemicals, and other biological processes. In addition, a number of laboratory and field trials have demonstrated that RNAi is also a potential strategy for moth pest management. In this review, therefore, we summarize and discuss the mechanisms and applications of the RNAi technique in moths by focusing on recent progresses.
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