Optimizing RNA interference in fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda using improved nanoparticles

Research poster
Ana Trabanino Pino
Andrew Michel
Department of Entomology

Fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda, is one of the most important pests in agriculture due to its ability to feed and damage several important agronomic crops. Nonetheless, FAW has developed resistance to several insecticides including transgenic traits, leading to significant yield loss. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop and implement novel strategies to control FAW populations. RNA interference (RNAi) is rapidly becoming a promising tool for insect pest control by silencing biologically important genes that result in death of the insect. Several studies have shown successful RNAi approaches with mosquitos, aphids and beetles. However, current RNAi approaches in lepidopteran pests (e.g. fall armyworm) are still ineffective. This study focuses on evaluating siRNA coupled with different types of nanoparticles to achieve gene silencing in FAW. To determine the efficacy of this technique, FAW neonates will be nebulized with three different types of nanoparticles separately (chitosan, PFC (perfluorocarbon) and Poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid)) mixed with siRNA. By using nanoparticles, we aim to protect siRNA from degradation during delivery, help accumulate around target tissue and therefore achieve a robust RNAi response in fall armyworm. Gene expression will be measured 24 and 120 hours after nebulization through qRT-PCR. Through this study we intent to exploit full RNAi potential and therefore provide a baseline for a consistent and reliable RNAi assay that can be used as a pest control strategy.