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Dr. Li Fei’s research group found a novel method of using microRNA to control rice stem borer

Editor: Date:2018-10-10 Hits:181

A research group from the Institute of Insect Sciences, Zhejiang University reported a new method of pest control using an insect-specific microRNA, which has been published in Plant Biotechnology Journal (https://doi.org/10.1111/pbi.12990) recently. “We successfully found a novel method for using microRNA to control rice stem borerwhich can provide a new idea for agriculture pest management” said by Dr. Li. Rice stem borer (RSB, Chilo suppressalis) is a serious insect pest in agriculture. Widespread use of insecticides to control this notorious insect pest has raised several problems such as insecticide resistance, environment pollution, and food safety issues. Therefore, developing an alternative pest control method become an urgent task.

MicroRNAs are a class of small, non-coding RNAs, which participate broadly in post-regulation of gene expression in plants and animals, become an ideal choice under current circumstances. However, microRNA genes have seldom been used in biological pest control. Dr. Li’s group identified an insect-specific microRNA (miR-14) in RSB, which was predicted to target Spook (Spo) and Ecdysone receptor (EcR) in the ecdysone signaling network. Overexpression of miR-14 with miRNA analogue led to a high mortality and caused severe developmental defects in RSB individuals after injection. By using transgenic technology, the authors obtained three rice lines with a single copy which could highly express miR-14 mature transcripts. The result indicated that line C#24 showed high mortality (60%) and resistance to RSB by feeding both T0 and T1 generation of transgenic miR-14 rice.

Previously, Dr. Li’s group had found that multiple miRNAs jointly regulate the biosynthesis of ecdysteroid and ensure the developmental convergence in RSB. This result was published in RNA journal (http://rnajournal.cshlp.org/content/23/12/1817) in 2017. On the basis, the latest research explored the potential of insect miRNA for improving pest control methods in order to provide a new idea and deeper insight for integrated pest management.

This work was supported by the National Key Research Development Program (2017YFD0200900, 2016YFC1200600) and National Natural Science Foundation of China (31772238, 31701785, 31760514).

Figure 1 Overexpression of Csu-miR-14 led to high mortality and developmental defects in RSB



Figure 2 Transgenic miR-14 rice showed high resistance to RSB