Persistence and transgenerational effect of plant-mediated RNAi in aphids.

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Plant-mediated RNA interference (RNAi) has been successfully used as a tool to study gene function in aphids. The persistence and transgenerational effects of plant-mediated RNAi in the green peach aphid (GPA) Myzus persicae were investigated, with a focus on three genes with different functions in the aphid. Rack1 is a key component of various cellular processes inside aphids, while candidate effector genes MpC002 and MpPIntO2 (Mp2) modulate aphid-plant interactions. The gene sequences and functions did not affect RNAi-mediated down-regulation and persistence levels in the aphids. Maximal reduction of gene expression was ~70% and this was achieved at between 4 d and 8 d of exposure of the aphids to double-stranded RNA (dsRNA)-producing transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana. Moreover, gene expression levels returned to wild-type levels within ~6 d after removal of the aphids from the transgenic plants, indicating that a continuous supply of dsRNA is required to maintain the RNAi effect. Target genes were also down-regulated in nymphs born from mothers exposed to dsRNA-producing transgenic plants, and the RNAi effect lasted twice as long (12-14 d) in these nymphs. Investigations of the impact of RNAi over three generations of aphids revealed that aphids reared on dsMpC002 transgenic plants experienced a 60% decline in aphid reproduction levels compared with a 40% decline of aphids reared on dsRack1 and dsMpPIntO2 plants. In a field setting, a reduction of the aphid reproduction by 40-60% would dramatically decrease aphid population growth, contributing to a substantial reduction in agricultural losses.