Development of RNAi methods to control the harlequin bug, Murgantia histrionica

Jeffrey L. Howell, Kanakachari Mogilicherla, Dhandapani Gurusamy, Subba Reddy Palli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The harlequin bug (HB), Murgantia histrionica, is a major pest of cabbage family plants throughout its range in the United States. RNA interference (RNAi) is a posttranscriptional gene silencing mechanism that is showing promise as a biopesticide due to the ability to target species-specific genes necessary for growth and/or survival with synthetic double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). In the present study, dsRNA stability assays revealed that nucleases present in the saliva of harlequin bugs did not rapidly degrade dsRNA. We tracked the movement and localization of radioactively labeled dsRNA in both mustard plant seedlings and harlequin bug nymphs that fed on treated host plants. Movement of 32P-labeled-dsRNA from soil to plant and plant to insect was detected. The efficacy of RNAi in inducing mortality in harlequin bug adults and nymphs injected or fed with dsRNA targeting inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP), ATPase N2B (ATPase), serine/threonine-protein phosphatase PP1-β catalytic subunit (PP1), signal recognition particle 54 kDa protein (SRP), and G protein-coupled receptor 161-like (GPCR) genes was evaluated. Injection of dsRNA targeting candidate genes into adults caused between 40% and 75% mortality and induced significant knockdown of target gene expression. Feeding dsRNA targeting the IAP gene to nymphs by plant-mediated and droplet feeding methods induced knockdown of the target gene and caused 40–55% mortality. These findings suggest that RNAi may be a viable approach for managing this pest.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere21690
JournalArchives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

Bibliographical note

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© 2020 Wiley Periodicals LLC


  • IAP
  • RNAi
  • dsRNA
  • pest control
  • stink bug

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Insect Science


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