RNAi knock-down of theBemisia tabaciToll gene (BtToll) increases mortality after challenge with destruxin A

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Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) Middle East-Asia Minor 1 (MEAM1) is a well known invasive insect species. Little information is available on immune system of B. tabaci to date. In this study, one of the Toll-like receptors (TLR; namely BtToll) was cloned in MEAM1 B. tabaci which contains an open reading frame of 3153 bp, encoding putative 1050 amino acids. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that BtToll is highly identitical with other members of the TLR family. Transcripts of BtToll detected through qRT-PCR were expressed in all developmental stages of B. tabaci and the highest expression level was observed in the 3rd nymphal instar. BtToll was highly expressed in response to immune challenge. RNA interference was used to knockdown the BtToll expression in adults through the oral route which resulted in significant reduction of BtToll transcript. When the adults were challenged with a mycotoxin from entomogenous fungi − destruxin A (DA) and RNAi, the median lethal concentration (LC50) decreased by 70.67% compared to DA treatment only. Our results suggest that BtToll is an important component of the B. tabaci immune system. RNAi technology using dsToll combined with general control methods (using toxin only) can be used as a potential strategy in integrated B. tabaci management programs.

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