Recent study has shown that RNA interference (RNAi) is efficient in emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis, and that ingestion of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) targeting specific genes causes gene silencing and mortality in neonates. Here, we report on the identification of highly effective target genes for RNAi-mediated control of EAB. We screened 13 candidate genes in neonate larvae and selected the most effective target genes for further investigation, including their effect on EAB adults and on a non-target organism, Tribolium castaneum. The two most efficient target genes selected, hsp (heat shock 70-kDa protein cognate 3) and shi (shibire), caused up to 90% mortality of larvae and adults. In EAB eggs, larvae, and adults, the hsp is expressed at higher levels when compared to that of shi. Ingestion of dsHSP and dsSHI caused mortality in both neonate larvae and adults. Administration of a mixture of both dsRNAs worked better than either dsRNA by itself. In contrast, injection of EAB.dsHSP and EAB.dsSHI did not cause mortality in T. castaneum. Thus, the two genes identified cause high mortality in the EAB with no apparent phenotype effects in a non-target organism, the red flour beetle, and could be used in RNAi-mediated control of this invasive pest.

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Published in Scientific Reports, v. 8, article no. 5020, p. 1-9.

© The Author(s) 2018

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This work was supported by the University of Kentucky, the USDA Forest Service Forest Health Research and Education Center, and the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station under McIntire-Stennis 2351197000.

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This is publication number 17–08–109 from the Kentucky Agricultural Experimental Station and is published with the approval of the director.