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Review

RNAi for Western Corn Rootworm Management: Lessons Learned, Challenges, and Future Directions

1
Department of Entomology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583, USA
2
Corteva Agriscience, Johnston, IA 50131, USA
3
Bayer Crop Science, Chesterfield, MO 63017, USA
4
GreenLight Biosciences, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Joseph L. Spencer
Insects 2022, 13(1), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010057
Received: 18 October 2021 / Revised: 17 December 2021 / Accepted: 28 December 2021 / Published: 5 January 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Corn Rootworm: Biology, Ecology, Behavior and Integrated Management)
The western corn rootworm (WCR), Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, is an annual pest of maize in the United States Corn Belt. Larval feeding on the root system can promote significant yield loss through reduced water and nutrient uptake and decreased plant stability. Various management tactics, including crop rotation, insecticides, and transgenic crops expressing Bacillus thuringiensis Berliner proteins, have been used to manage WCR densities. However, resistance has evolved to each of these tactics in local areas, highlighting the need for new management strategies. The use of RNA interference (RNAi) technology for WCR management represents the next phase of species-specific pest management. This paper reviews the current knowledge of RNAi for WCR management. We present an overview of traits that have been explored and the accumulated knowledge acquired on mode of action, resistance, ecological risk assessment, and mammalian safety. We conclude by highlighting the challenges and future directions of this technology for WCR management.
The western corn rootworm (WCR), Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte, is considered one of the most economically important pests of maize (Zea mays L.) in the United States (U.S.) Corn Belt with costs of management and yield losses exceeding USD ~1–2 billion annually. WCR management has proven challenging given the ability of this insect to evolve resistance to multiple management strategies including synthetic insecticides, cultural practices, and plant-incorporated protectants, generating a constant need to develop new management tools. One of the most recent developments is maize expressing double-stranded hairpin RNA structures targeting housekeeping genes, which triggers an RNA interference (RNAi) response and eventually leads to insect death. Following the first description of in planta RNAi in 2007, traits targeting multiple genes have been explored. In June 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the first in planta RNAi product against insects for commercial use. This product expresses a dsRNA targeting the WCR snf7 gene in combination with Bt proteins (Cry3Bb1 and Cry34Ab1/Cry35Ab1) to improve trait durability and will be introduced for commercial use in 2022. View Full-Text
Keywords: RNAi; western corn rootworm; Diabrotica virgifera virgifera; plant-incorporated protectant; pyramid strategy; insect resistance management RNAi; western corn rootworm; Diabrotica virgifera virgifera; plant-incorporated protectant; pyramid strategy; insect resistance management
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MDPI and ACS Style

Darlington, M.; Reinders, J.D.; Sethi, A.; Lu, A.L.; Ramaseshadri, P.; Fischer, J.R.; Boeckman, C.J.; Petrick, J.S.; Roper, J.M.; Narva, K.E.; Vélez, A.M. RNAi for Western Corn Rootworm Management: Lessons Learned, Challenges, and Future Directions. Insects 2022, 13, 57. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010057

AMA Style

Darlington M, Reinders JD, Sethi A, Lu AL, Ramaseshadri P, Fischer JR, Boeckman CJ, Petrick JS, Roper JM, Narva KE, Vélez AM. RNAi for Western Corn Rootworm Management: Lessons Learned, Challenges, and Future Directions. Insects. 2022; 13(1):57. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010057

Chicago/Turabian Style

Darlington, Molly, Jordan D. Reinders, Amit Sethi, Albert L. Lu, Partha Ramaseshadri, Joshua R. Fischer, Chad J. Boeckman, Jay S. Petrick, Jason M. Roper, Kenneth E. Narva, and Ana M. Vélez. 2022. "RNAi for Western Corn Rootworm Management: Lessons Learned, Challenges, and Future Directions" Insects 13, no. 1: 57. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13010057

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