Buzz Off! dsRNA as a housefly control strategy

Buzz Off! dsRNA as a housefly control strategy

Houseflies (Musca domestica) aren’t just annoying; they contaminate food and spread disease among humans and animals worldwide. But they rapidly evolve resistance to the usual insecticides, prompting the proposal of an alternative control strategy: RNA interference using double stranded RNA (dsRNA). In other pests, dsRNA has proven effective in disrupting the expression of key genes, but the method had not previously been demonstrated in adult houseflies.

In a new PLOS ONE study, Neil Sanscrainte and colleagues found that injection of dsRNA into female adult houseflies was successful in reducing the flies’ fertility. dsRNA targeting two housefly ribosomal proteins resulted in reduced egg development and egg-laying. Injection of dsRNA targeting the ribsosomal proteins of a mosquito species did not reduce fertility, indicating that dsRNA treatment might be species-specific, an important characteristic for targeted control.

Injection methods are not practical in the field, so future research could investigate alternative delivery methods. Nonetheless, this study demonstrates that dsRNA might be effective and specific in targeting housefly reproduction, and therefore shows promise as a control strategy for this important pest.

Research Article: Sanscrainte ND, Arimoto H, Waits CM, Li LY, Johnson D, Geden C, et al. (2018) Reduction in Musca domestica fecundity by dsRNA-mediated gene knockdown. PLoS ONE 13(1): e0187353.

Image Credit: Vinoth Chandar, Flickr


Beth works at PLOS as Journal Media Manager. She read Natural Sciences, specializing in Pathology, at the University of Cambridge before joining PLOS in 2013. She feels fortunate to be able to read and write about the exciting new research published by PLOS.

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