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Fatal attraction: the volatile influences that will lead whiteflies to deadly encounters and the RNAi responsible

Ludba, K.K., Thompson, G.J., Donly, B.C., Percival-Smith, A., Scott, I.M. (2016). Fatal attraction: the volatile influences that will lead whiteflies to deadly encounters and the RNAi responsible. Insect Biotech Conference, St. Catharines, Ontario. 8-10 June 2016, Oral Presentation.

Abstract

In this day and age, food is being produced at an arithmetic rate, while human population is growing at an exponential rate, making crop yield and protection increasingly important. Currently, insect pests and pathogens are responsible for up to 30% of crop loss in Europe and the United States, and the incidence of pesticide resistance is increasing. One alternative to chemical pesticides are pest-specific ‘trap crops’, which attract target pest species; this can be done using olfactory responses in insects which can result in an attractant or arrestant effect, depending on the insect species. This has been observed in transgenic Micro-Tom tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum cv.), which have enhanced carotenoid cleaving dioxygenase gene (CCD) expression and have an increased release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs); this change to the VOC profile has increased the oviposition preference by T. vaporariorum (Westwood) for the transgenic tomato compared to wild-type. By combining these attractive plants with RNA interference (RNAi), a novel lethal trap crop model, which first lures, and then kills by silencing conserved target genes, can be developed. This model can be used in future research in lethal trap crop development, which can benefit greenhouse production by decreasing chemical insecticide use, plant pathogen transmission and increasing crop yield.

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