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1.  Double-Stranded RNA Uptake through Topical Application, Mediates Silencing of Five CYP4 Genes and Suppresses Insecticide Resistance in Diaphorina citri 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110536.
Silencing of genes through RNA interference (RNAi) in insects has gained momentum during the past few years. RNAi has been used to cause insect mortality, inhibit insect growth, increase insecticide susceptibility, and prevent the development of insecticide resistance. We investigated the efficacy of topically applied dsRNA to induce RNAi for five Cytochrome P450 genes family 4 (CYP4) in Diaphorina citri. We previously reported that these CYP4 genes are associated with the development of insecticide resistance in D. citri. We targeted five CYP4 genes that share a consensus sequence with one dsRNA construct. Quantitative PCR confirmed suppressed expression of the five CYP4 genes as a result of dsRNA topically applied to the thoracic region of D. citri when compared to the expression levels in a control group. Western blot analysis indicated a reduced signal of cytochrome P450 proteins (45 kDa) in adult D. citri treated with the dsRNA. In addition, oxidase activity and insecticide resistance were reduced for D. citri treated with dsRNA that targeted specific CYP4 genes. Mortality was significantly higher in adults treated with dsRNA than in adults treated with water. Our results indicate that topically applied dsRNA can penetrate the cuticle of D. citri and induce RNAi. These results broaden the scope of RNAi as a mechanism to manage pests by targeting a broad range of genes. The results also support the application of RNAi as a viable tool to overcome insecticide resistance development in D. citri populations. However, further research is needed to develop grower-friendly delivery systems for the application of dsRNA under field conditions. Considering the high specificity of dsRNA, this tool can also be used for management of D. citri by targeting physiologically critical genes involved in growth and development.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110536
PMCID: PMC4203802  PMID: 25330026
2.  Sexual Transmission of a Plant Pathogenic Bacterium, Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, between Conspecific Insect Vectors during Mating 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29197.
Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus is a fastidious, phloem-inhabiting, gram-negative bacterium transmitted by Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri Kuwayama (Hemiptera: Psyllidae). The bacterium is the presumed causal agent of huanglongbing (HLB), one of the most destructive and economically important diseases of citrus. We investigated whether Las is transmitted between infected and uninfected D. citri adults during courtship. Our results indicate that Las was sexually transmitted from Las-infected male D. citri to uninfected females at a low rate (<4%) during mating. Sexual transmission was not observed following mating of infected females and uninfected males or among adult pairs of the same sex. Las was detected in genitalia of both sexes and also in eggs of infected females. A latent period of 7 days or more was required to detect the bacterium in recipient females. Rod shaped as well as spherical structures resembling Las were observed in ovaries of Las-infected females with transmission electron microscopy, but were absent in ovaries from uninfected D. citri females. The size of the rod shaped structures varied from 0.39 to 0.67 µm in length and 0.19 to 0.39 µm in width. The spherical structures measured from 0.61 to 0.80 µm in diameter. This investigation provides convincing evidence that a plant pathogenic bacterium is sexually transmitted from male to female insects during courtship and established evidence that bacteria persist in reproductive organs. Moreover, these findings provide an alternative sexually horizontal mechanism for the spread of Las within populations of D. citri, even in the absence of infected host trees.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029197
PMCID: PMC3244449  PMID: 22216209

Results 1-2 (2)