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K-State researchers find gene-silencing nanoparticles may put end to pesky summer pest
Date:7/19/2010

y silenced, the mosquitoes may die without the use of pesticides because the chitin biosynthesis pathway would be blocked, Zhu said.

Zhu theorized using nanoparticles to deliver dsRNA to mosquito larvae might work because of the low success of manually injecting larvae with dsRNA. Mosquito larvae live in water but because dsRNA quickly dissipates in water, it can't be directly added to the larvae's food source. Zhu's group discovered that using nanoparticles assembled from dsRNA facilitates their ingestion by mosquito larvae because the nanoparticles don't dissolve in water. Zhu said the nanoparticles may also stabilize the dsRNA in water.

"Now insects will have a much greater likelihood of getting these nanoparticles containing the dsRNA into their gut through feeding," Zhu said.

Potentially, bait containing dsRNA-based nanoparticles could be developed for insect control, Zhu said.

"Because we can select specific genes for silencing, and the nanoparticles are formed from chitosan -- a virtually non-toxic and biodegradable polymer -- this pest control technology could target specific pest species while being environmentally friendly," he said.

Mosquitoes were chosen, Zhu said, because of the abundant research on them as human disease vectors. Other insects, though, can have their genes silenced. Zhu and his collaborators also have investigated gene silencing in the European corn borer and in grasshoppers, a major insect pest in China. Nanoparticles did not have to be used because grasshoppers and European corn borers are not aquatic. However, nanoparticle-based RNAi may facilitate the studies on the functions of new genes.


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Contact: Kun Yan Zhu
kzhu@k-state.edu
785-532-4721
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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