RNA interference (RNAi) based methods are being developed for pest management. A few products for control of coleopteran pests are expected to be commercialized soon. However, variability in RNAi efficiency among insects is preventing the widespread use of this technology. In this study, we conducted research to identify reasons for variability in RNAi efficiency among thirty-seven (37) insects belonging to five orders. Studies on double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) degradation by dsRNases and processing of labeled dsRNA to siRNA showed that both dsRNA degradation and processing are variable among insects belonging to different orders as well as among different insect species within the same order. We identified homologs of key RNAi genes in the genomes of some of these insects and studied their domain architecture. These data suggest that dsRNA digestion by dsRNases and its processing to siRNAs in the cells are among the major factors contributing to differential RNAi efficiency reported among insects.

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Published in Scientific Reports, v. 7, article no. 17059, p. 1-12.

© The Author(s) 2017

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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This work was supported by National Institutes of Health (1R21AI131427-01) and by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, HATCH under 2351177000. I.K.S. and S.S. were supported by UGC India Raman Fellowship.

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This is publication number 17-08-103 from the Kentucky Agricultural Experimental Station and is published with the approval of the director.

Supplementary information accompanies this paper at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-17134-2.

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