Kalsi, M. and S. R. Palli. 2017. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 83: 1-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ibmb.2017.02.002

Colorado potato beetle (CPB), Leptinotarsa decemlineata is a notorious pest of potato. Co-evolution with Solanaceae plants containing high levels of toxins (glycoalkaloids) helped this insect to develop an efficient detoxification system and resist almost every chemical insecticide introduced for its control. Even though the cross-resistance between plant allelochemicals and insecticides is well acknowledged, the underlying molecular mechanisms are not understood. Here, we investigated the molecular mechanisms involved in detoxification of potato plant allelochemicals and imidacloprid resistance in the field-collected CPB. Our results showed that the imidacloprid-resistant beetles employ metabolic detoxification of both potato plant allelochemicals and imidacloprid by upregulation of common cytochrome P450 genes. RNAi aided knockdown identified four cytochromes P450 genes (CYP6BJa/b, CYP6BJ1v1, CYP9Z25, and CYP9Z29) that are required for defense against both natural and synthetic chemicals. These P450 genes are regulated by the xenobiotic transcription factors Cap n Collar C, CncC and muscle aponeurosis fibromatosis, Maf. Studies on the CYP9Z25 promoter using the luciferase reporter assay identified two binding sites (i.e. GCAGAAT and GTACTGA) for CncC and Maf. Overall, these data showed that CPB employs the metabolic resistance mediated through xenobiotic transcription factors CncC and Maf to regulate multiple P450 genes and detoxify both imidacloprid and potato plant allelochemicals.

Spit, J., A. Philips, N. Wynant, D. Santos, G. Plaetinck, J. Vanden Broeck.  Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 81: 103-116, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ibmb.2017.01.004

The responsiveness towards orally delivered dsRNA and the potency of a subsequent environmental RNA interference (RNAi) response strongly differs between different insect species. While some species are very sensitive to dsRNA delivery through the diet, others are not. The underlying reasons for this may vary, but degradation of dsRNA by nucleases in the gut lumen is believed to play a crucial role. The Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, is a voracious defoliator of potato crops worldwide, and is currently under investigation for novel control methods based on dsRNA treatments. Here we describe the identification and characterization of two nuclease genes exclusively expressed in the gut of this pest species. Removal of nuclease activity in adults increased the sensitivity towards dsRNA and resulted in improved protection of potato plants. A similar strategy in the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria, for which we show a far more potent nuclease activity in the gut juice, did however not lead to an improvement of the RNAi response. Possible reasons for this are discussed. Taken together, the present data confirm a negative effect of nucleases in the gut on the environmental RNAi response, and further suggest that interfering with this activity is a strategy worth pursuing for improving RNAi efficacy in insect pest control applications.