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Article

dsRNA-Mediated Pest Management of Tuta absoluta Is Compatible with Its Biological Control Agent Nesidiocoris tenuis

1
Laboratory of Agricultural Zoology and Entomology, Agricultural University of Athens, 11855 Athens, Greece
2
Laboratory of Plant Breeding and Biometry, Agricultural University of Athens, 11855 Athens, Greece
3
Laboratory of Agrozoology, Department of Plants and Crops, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Eric W. Riddick
Insects 2021, 12(4), 274; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12040274
Received: 24 February 2021 / Revised: 15 March 2021 / Accepted: 18 March 2021 / Published: 24 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection Natural Enemies and Biological Control of Plant Pests)
The zoophytophagous mirid bug Nesidiocoris tenuis is an efficient predator of the tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta. RNA interference (RNAi) targeting the alphaCOP (αCOP) (Coatomer subunit alpha protein) gene of N. tenuis (Nt-αCOP) was proven to be functional in N. tenuis, causing downregulation of gene expression, mortality and sub-lethal effects. In contrast, when N. tenuis were fed with dsRNA (dsTa-αCOP) targeting the ortholog αCOP gene of T. absoluta, no lethal nor sub-lethal effects were observed. These results indicate the compatibility of this biocontrol agent along with RNAi-mediated management in order to suppress T. absoluta efficiently in tomato crop.
RNAi-mediated insect pest management has recently shown promising results against the most serious pest of tomato, the tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta. This study aimed to investigate whether dsRNA (dsTa-αCOP) designed to target the T. absoluta-αCOP gene could cause adverse effects to its biocontrol agent, the mirid predator, Nesidiocoris tenuis. Oral exposure of N. tenuis to dsRNA (dsNt-αCOP) designed to target N. tenuis-αCOP resulted in a 61%, 67% and 55% reduction in its transcript level in comparison to the sucrose, dsGFP and dsTa-αCOP treatments, respectively. In addition, significantly higher mortality of 57% was recorded in dsNt-αCOP-treated N. tenuis when compared to the sucrose (7%), dsGFP (10%) and dsTa-αCOP (10%) treatments. Moreover, the predation rate of ~33–39 Ephestia kuehniella eggs per N. tenuis adult dramatically reduced to almost half in the surviving dsNt-αCOP-treated N. tenuis. This worst-case exposure scenario confirmed for the first time that the RNAi machinery is functional in this species and that the risk of exposure through the oral route is possible. In contrast, dsTa-αCOP did not cause any sub-lethal effects to N. tenuis upon oral exposure. Oral exposure of T. absoluta to dsTa-αCOP resulted in 50% mortality. In the context of a biosafety risk assessment of RNAi-mediated insect management, investigating the effects on non-target organisms is essential in order to include this method as part of an integrated pest management strategy. Based on our laboratory assays, RNAi-mediated control is compatible with the biological control of T. absoluta by its natural enemy N. tenuis, adding the RNAi approach in the armoire of integrated pest management of T. absoluta. View Full-Text
Keywords: RNA interference (RNAi); biosafety; integrated pest management (IPM); biological control; oral droplet feeding RNA interference (RNAi); biosafety; integrated pest management (IPM); biological control; oral droplet feeding
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sarmah, N.; Kaldis, A.; Taning, C.N.T.; Perdikis, D.; Smagghe, G.; Voloudakis, A. dsRNA-Mediated Pest Management of Tuta absoluta Is Compatible with Its Biological Control Agent Nesidiocoris tenuis. Insects 2021, 12, 274. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12040274

AMA Style

Sarmah N, Kaldis A, Taning CNT, Perdikis D, Smagghe G, Voloudakis A. dsRNA-Mediated Pest Management of Tuta absoluta Is Compatible with Its Biological Control Agent Nesidiocoris tenuis. Insects. 2021; 12(4):274. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12040274

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sarmah, Nomi, Athanasios Kaldis, Clauvis N.T. Taning, Dionysios Perdikis, Guy Smagghe, and Andreas Voloudakis. 2021. "dsRNA-Mediated Pest Management of Tuta absoluta Is Compatible with Its Biological Control Agent Nesidiocoris tenuis" Insects 12, no. 4: 274. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12040274

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