The pine caterpillar moth, Dendrolimus punctatus, is a devastating forest pest. Genetic manipulation of this insect pest is limited due to the lack of genomic and functional genomic toolsets. Recently, CRISPR/Cas9 technology has been demonstrated to be a promising approach to modify the genome. To investigate gene functions during the embryogenesis, we introduced CRISPR/Cas9 system in D. punctatus to precisely and effectively manipulate gene expressions inmutant embryos. Compared to controls, knocking out of DpWnt-1, a gene well known for its role in the early body planning, led to high embryonic mortality. Among these mutants, 32.9% of the embryos and larvae showed an abnormal development. DpWnt-1 mutants predominantly exhibited abnormal posterior segments. In addition, multiple phenotypes were observed, including the loss of limbs and the head deformation, suggesting that DpWnt-1 signaling pathway is necessary for anterior segmentation and appendage development. Overall, our results demonstrate that CRISPR/Cas9 system is feasible and efficient in inducing mutations at a specific locus in D. punctatus. This study not only lays the foundation for characterizing gene functions in a non-model species, but also facilitates the future development of pest control alternatives for a major defoliator.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Frontiers in Physiology, v. 7, 666, p. 1-12.

© 2017 Liu, Liu, Zhou, Huang and Zhang.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information

This project was supported by strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NO. XDB11010600) and a special fund for Forest Scientific Research in the Public Welfare (201504302).

Related Content

The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fphys.2016.00666/full#supplementary-material

data sheet 1 (3).docx (1406 kB)
Data Sheet 1