Máximo WPF, Howell JL, Mogilicherla K, Basij M, Chereddy SCRR, Palli SR. 2020. Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology. 104:e21685.

The Colorado potato beetle (CPB; Leptinotarsa decemlineata) is one of the most notorious and difficult to control pests of potato and other solanaceous crops in North America. This insect has evolved a remarkable ability to detoxify both plant and synthetic toxins, allowing it to feed on solanaceous plants containing toxic alkaloids and to develop resistance to synthetic chemicals used for its control. RNA interference (RNAi) is a natural mechanism that evolved as an immune response to double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses where dsRNA triggers silencing of target gene expression. RNAi is being developed as a method to control CPB. Here, we evaluated four CPB-specific genes to identify targets for RNAi-mediated control of this insect. Out of the four dsRNAs evaluated in CPB larvae and adults, dsIAP (dsRNA targeting inhibitor of apoptosis, iap gene) performed better than dsActin, dsHSP70, and dsDynamin in inducing larval mortality. However, in adults, the mortality induced by dsActin is significantly higher than the mortality induced by dsIAP, dsHSP70, and dsDynamin. Interestingly, a combination of dsIAP and dsActin performed better than either dsIAP or dsActin alone by inducing feeding inhibition in 24 hr and mortality in 48 hr in larvae. When the dsIAP and dsActin were expressed in the Escherichia coli HT115 strain and applied as a heat-killed bacterial spray on potato plants, it protected the plants from CPB damage. These studies show that the combination of dsIAP and dsActin shows promise as an insecticide to control CPB.

Lazarević J, Kostić I, Milanović S, Šešlija Jovanović D, Krnjajić S, Ćalić D, Stanković S, Kostić M. 2020.  Bulletin of Entomological Research. First View.

The Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say), is one of the most destructive pest species to have developed resistance to most chemical insecticides. We determined the composition and evaluated the potential of Tanacetum parthenium L. and Tanacetum vulgare L. (Asteraceae family) essential oil (EO) application as an alternative eco-friendly control strategy against L. decemlineata. We assessed the antifeedant activity for L. decemlineata larvae and adults by estimating the damage to potato leaves treated with three concentrations of EOs dissolved in ethanol (0.125, 0.25 and 0.5%). Results showed that T. parthenium EO was more effective against larvae, and T. vulgare was more effective against adults. In an olfactometer assay, the time required to choose an untreated leaf disc did not depend on the Tanacetum species, or life stage examined. However, the concentration of EO exhibited a significant effect on the behaviour of both developmental stages. At higher EO concentrations, both third instar larvae and adults require less time to choose an untreated leaf disc. Additionally, T. parthenium EO provoked more rapid movement away from the treated leaf disc than T. vulgare, especially at the highest concentration. Successful modification of L. decemlineata behaviour by the two Tanacetum oils suggests that they possess the potential for use in potato protection.

Kang W-N, Fu K-Y, Guo W-C, Li G-Q. 2020.  Microbiology Resource Announcements. 9(25).

Bacteria of the genus Stenotrophomonas are opportunistic and have been documented in the guts of several insect species. Here, we present the complete genome sequence of S. maltophilia strain CPBW01, isolated from the wings of the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, collected from potato fields in Urumqi (43.71N, 87.39E), Xinjiang, China.

Kaiser N, Manrique-Carpintero NC, DiFonzo C, Coombs J, Douches D. 2020. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. 133(9):2583–2603.

Key message: A major QTL on chromosome 2 associated with leptine biosynthesis and Colorado potato beetle resistance was identified in a diploid S. chacoense F2 population using linkage mapping and bulk-segregant analysis. Abstract: We examined the genetic features underlying leptine glycoalkaloid mediated Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) host plant resistance in a diploid F2 mapping population of 233 individuals derived from Solanum chacoense lines USDA8380-1 and M6. The presence of foliar leptine glycoalkaloids in this population segregated as a single dominant gene and displayed continuous distribution of accumulated quantity in those individuals producing the compound. Using biparental linkage mapping, a major overlapping QTL region with partial dominance effects was identified on chromosome 2 explaining 49.3% and 34.1% of the variance in Colorado potato beetle field resistance and leptine accumulation, respectively. Association of this putative resistance region on chromosome 2 was further studied in an expanded F2 population in a subsequent field season. Loci significantly associated with leptine synthesis colocalized to chromosome 2. Significant correlation between increased leptine content and decreased Colorado potato beetle defoliation suggests a single QTL on chromosome 2. Additionally, a minor QTL with overdominance effects explaining 6.2% associated with Colorado potato beetle resistance donated by susceptible parent M6 was identified on chromosome 7. Bulk segregant whole genome sequencing of the same F2 population detected QTL associated with Colorado potato beetle resistance on chromosomes 2, 4, 6, 7, and 12. Weighted gene co-expression network analysis of parental lines and resistant and susceptible F2 individuals identified a tetratricopeptide repeat containing protein with a putative regulatory function and a previously uncharacterized acetyltransferase within the QTL region on chromosome 2, possibly under the control of a regulatory Tap46 subunit within the minor QTL on chromosome 12.

Kadoić Balaško M, Mikac KM, Bažok R, Lemic D. 2020. Insects. 11(9):581

Colorado potato beetle, CPB (Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say), is one of the most important pests of the potato globally. Larvae and adults can cause complete defoliation of potato plant leaves and can lead to a large yield loss. The insect has been successfully suppressed by insecticides; however, over time, has developed resistance to insecticides from various chemical groups, and its once successful control has diminished. The number of available active chemical control substances is decreasing with the process of testing, and registering new products on the market are time-consuming and expensive, with the possibility of resistance ever present. All of these concerns have led to the search for new methods to control CPB and efficient tools to assist with the detection of resistant variants and monitoring of resistant populations. Current strategies that may aid in slowing resistance include gene silencing by RNA interference (RNAi). RNAi, besides providing an efficient tool for gene functional studies, represents a safe, efficient, and eco-friendly strategy for CPB control. Genetically modified (GM) crops that produce the toxins of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) have many advantages over agro-technical, mechanical, biological, and chemical measures. However, pest resistance that may occur and public acceptance of GM modified food crops are the main problems associated with Bt crops. Recent developments in the speed, cost, and accuracy of next generation sequencing are revolutionizing the discovery of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and field of population genomics. There is a need for effective resistance monitoring programs that are capable of the early detection of resistance and successful implementation of integrated resistance management (IRM). The main focus of this review is on new technologies for CPB control (RNAi) and tools (SNPs) for detection of resistant CPB populations.

He W, Xu W, Fu K, Guo W, Zhang J. 2020. Insects. 11(7):1–9.

RNA interference (RNAi)-based technology has been proven as a novel approach for insect pest control. However, whether insects could evolve resistance to RNAi and the underlying mechanism is largely unknown. The target gene mutations were thought to be one of the potential ways to develop the resistance. Here we predicted the effective siRNA candidates that could be derived from dsRNA against the Colorado potato beetle (CPB) β-Actin gene (dsACT). By site-directed mutagenesis, we synthesized the dsRNAs with the defect in generation of effective siRNAs (and thus were supposed to have comparable low RNAi efficacy). We showed that, with mismatches to the target gene, all the dsRNA variants caused similar levels of silencing of target gene, mortality and larval growth retardation of CPB. Our results suggest that when the mismatch rate of dsACT and target β-Actin mRNA is less than 3%, the RNAi efficiency is not impaired in CPB, which might imply the low possibility of RNAi resistance evolving through the sequence mismatches between dsRNA and the target gene.

Gui S, Taning CNT, Smagghe G. 2020. Insect Science: Early View.

Insect neuropeptides regulate various physiological processes, such as reproduction, feeding, growth and development, and have been considered as viable targets in the development of alternative strategies for pest control. Amongst these neuropeptides is myosuppressin (MS), a very conserved neuropeptide that has been reported to regulate cardiac and skeletal muscle contractility, feeding and pupal diapause in insects. In this study, we investigated the involvement of MS in fecundity in a notorious defoliator of potato and other solanaceous plants, the Colorado potato beetle (CPB), Leptinotarsa decemlineata. We identified an MS-precursor-encoding transcript in the L. decemlineata transcriptomic database and then evaluated its transcript levels in various CPB tissues. MS transcript levels were found to be highest in the central nervous system, gut and muscle of CPB males and females. To investigate the role of MS in fecundity, MS was silenced in adult CPBs through RNA interference (RNAi). This resulted in a significant reduction in oviposition (over 80%) and oocyte size (69%) in the treated beetles compared to the controls. Also, the reduction in oviposition in treated females was confirmed to be dependent on MS knockdown and independent of male fertilization. Furthermore, MS-knockdown in females resulted in decreased levels of ecdysteroid hormone titers and the transcript levels of its receptor. Interestingly, the injection of 20-hydroxyecdysone into females following MS knockdown could rescue ovary development. Altogether, this study highlights the important role played by MS in regulating fecundity in CPB.

Ashouri S, Farshbaf Pourabad R. 2021. Gene. 766:145159.

Considering the relevance of insect α-amylases and natural α-amylase inhibitors present in plants to protect against insect damage, we investigated the effect of white bean and rapeseed protein extracts on digestive α-amylase gene expression of the Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say). For this purpose, in vitro and in vivo trials were performed to determine the inhibitory activity of seed proteins on the third and fourth instar larvae. In both trials, the significant inhibitory effect of each extracts on the third and fourth instar larval α-amylase activity and considerable mortality in treatments were observed compared to control trials. In the RT-qPCR, expression ratio demonstrated that the α-amylase gene of two different larval stages grown on both proteins treated leaves had significantly differentiated expression and was up-regulated in third instar larvae and down-regulated in fourth instar larvae compared to control. Results suggest that the hyper-production of α-amylase in third instar larvae is elicited to compensate for the enzyme activity inhibition at an earlier stage and also down-regulation suggests the existence of a negative feedback of plant proteins on the last instar larvae via impaired food intake and digestive α-amylase activity in Colorado potato beetle. Therefore, disruption of the insect's digestive physiology by plant defensive proteins can be considered in the development of innovative controlling methods of this crucial potato pest.

Aflitto NC, Thaler JS. 2020. Ecological Entomology. 45(5):1190–1199.

The influence of predator cues on the behaviour of prey is well supported in the literature; however, a clear understanding of how predator cues affect prey in variable environmental conditions and over longer time scales is needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms. Here, we measure how predator odors affect herbivore colonization, abundance, oviposition, and plant damage across two growing seasons. The study system consisted of Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Colorado potato beetle) as prey, and the aggregation pheromone of live Podisus maculiventris (spined soldier bug) as the predator cue in a potato field. In 2016, the amount of feeding damage by early beetle colonists was lower in predator odor-treated plots, reducing plant damage by 22%. Larval abundance was also reduced in treated plots in 2016. Beetle abundance and damage in 2017 was similar in the treatment and control plots. Two mechanisms were investigated to better understand why prey response to the predator odor treatment weakened over the first season, including changes in predator odor cue strength and prey habituation. Predator odor cue strength emerged as a likely explanation, as dispensers, which released a synthetic predator pheromone over the entire season, reduced the probability of finding damage more consistently than the live predator treatment. These results suggest that temporal patterns of predator cue release and strength may drive prey response across the season, underscoring the importance of cue release-rate and consistency in both species interactions and for the future application of modifying insect behaviour using non-consumptive effects in agricultural systems.

Mehlhorn, S.G., S. Geibel, G. Bucher, R. Nauen. Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology, Volume 166, June 2020, 104569, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pestbp.2020.104569

In recent years, substantial effort was spent on the exploration and implementation of RNAi technology using double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) for pest management purposes. However, only few studies investigated the geographical variation in RNAi sensitivity present in field-collected populations of the targeted insect pest. In this baseline study, 2nd instar larvae of 14 different European populations of Colorado potato beetle (CPB), Leptinotarsa decemlineata, collected from nine different countries were exposed to a foliarly applied diagnostic dose of dsactin (dsact) to test for possible variations in RNAi response. Only minor variability in RNAi sensitivity was observed between populations. However, the time necessary to trigger a dsRNA-mediated phenotypic response varied significantly among populations, indicated by significant differences in mortality figures obtained five days after treatment. An inbred German laboratory reference strain D01 and a Spanish field strain E02 showed almost 100% mortality after foliar exposure to 30 ng dsactin (equal to 0.96 g/ha), whereas another Spanish strain E01 was least responsive and showed only 30% mortality. Calculated LD50-values for foliarly applied dsact against strains D01 (most sensitive) and E01 (least sensitive) were 9.22 and 68.7 ng/leaf disc, respectively. The variability was not based on target gene sequence divergence or knock-down efficiency. Variability in expression of the core RNAi machinery genes dicer (dcr2a) and argonaute (ago2a) was observed but did not correlate with sensitivity. Interestingly, RT-qPCR data collected for all strains revealed a strong correlation between the expression level of dcr2a and ago2a (r 0.93) as well as ago2a and stauC (r 0.94), a recently described dsRNA binding protein in Coleopterans. Overall, this study demonstrates that sensitivity of CPB to sprayable RNAi slightly varies between strains but also shows that foliar RNAi as a control method works against all tested CPB populations collected across a broad geographic range in Europe. Thus, underpinning the potential of RNAi-based CPB control as a promising component in integrated pest management (IPM) and resistance management programs.