In response to the growing concern of human health and sustainable agricultural production in the world, insect pest control has become an increasingly important issue. Currently, we have very limited numbers of target sites for developing new chemical insecticides. However, insects possess a large number of “essential” genes, which will allow researchers to develop novel RNA interference (RNAi)-based insect control technologies. Although direct injection of double stranded RNA (dsRNA) into the insect body is the most commonly used delivery method for RNAi in research, such a method is not suitable for insect control.
Researchers at Kansas State University have developed the first effective, non-invasive insect larval feeding-based RNAi method. The method relies on the nanoparticles assembled from a non-toxic biopolymer and dsRNA to increase the stability of dsRNA and uptake of dsRNA by insect cells. Such a gene silencing method is suitable for almost all insect species during their feeding stages and can be used to develop RNAi-based insect control technologies (e.g. insect baits).
-Increased stability of dsRNA
-Increased cellular uptake in insect body
-Tailored for specific insect pest species
-Readily applicable to target various genes in the pest
-Great potential to produce various forms of insect baits (e.g. liquid, gel, etc.)
-Biodegradable and non-toxic to the environment
-Development of RNAi-based insect baits as a replacement for harmful pesticides
-Development of high throughput screening of novel gene functions by insect feeding
-U.S. patent #8,841,272 issued on September 23, 2014