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Silencing the expression of the salivary sheath protein causes transgenerational feeding suppression in the aphid Sitobion avenae

: Abdellatef, E.; Will, T.; Koch, A.; Imani, J.; Vilcinskas, A.; Kogel, K.-H.


Plant biotechnology journal 13 (2015), No.6, pp.849-857
ISSN: 1467-7644
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IME ()

Aphids produce gel saliva during feeding which forms a sheath around the stylet as it penetrates through the apoplast. The sheath is required for the sustained ingestion of phloem sap from sieve elements and is thought to form when the structural sheath protein (SHP) is cross-linked by intermolecular disulphide bridges. We investigated the possibility of controlling aphid infestation by host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) targeting shp expression in the grain aphid Sitobion avenae. When aphids were fed on transgenic barley expressing shp double-stranded RNA (shp-dsRNA), they produced significantly lower levels of shp mRNA compared to aphids feeding on wild-type plants, suggesting that the transfer of inhibitory RNA from the plant to the insect was successful. shp expression remained low when aphids were transferred from transgenic plants and fed for 1 or 2 weeks, respectively, on wild-type plants, confirming that silencing had a prolonged impact. Reduced shp expression correlated with a decline in growth, reproduction and survival rates. Remarkably, morphological and physiological aberrations such as winged adults and delayed maturation were maintained over seven aphid generations feeding on wild-type plants. Targeting shp expression therefore appears to cause strong transgenerational effects on feeding, development and survival in S. avenae, suggesting that the HIGS technology has a realistic potential for the control of aphid pests in agriculture.