TitlePhenotypic Effects of PBAN RNAi Using Oral Delivery of dsRNA to Corn Earworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) and Tobacco Budworm Larvae
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsChoi, M-Y, VanderMeer, R
JournalJournal of Economic Entomology
Start Page434–439
Keywordsfeeding, Heliothine moth, Mortality, neuropeptide, RNAi

Insect neuropeptides represent more than 90% of all insect hormones. The pheromone biosynthesis activating
neuropeptide (PBAN)/pyrokinin family is a major group of insect neuropeptides. These neuropeptides regulate a
variety of biological functions from embryo to adult in moths including, sex pheromone biosynthesis and diapause.
Other functions are yet to be determined. The identification of suitable target genes is most important for the successful
application of RNA interference (RNAi) for pest insect control. Insect neuropeptide genes including PBAN are known
to have multiple functions and could be a good target for RNAi suppression. In this study, we selected the PBAN gene
and its neuropeptide products as an RNAi target for two economically important moth species, the corn earworm,
Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), and the tobacco budworm, Heliothis virescens (Fabricius). We investigated RNAi effects on
immature moths that had ingested the specific double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) starting at the first instar larva through
pupation. We report that RNAi treatments resulted in delay of larval growth, interference of pupal development, and
mortality in the two pest moths. In addition, we selected small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to determine if they have
negative phenotypic effects similar to their full-length RNAi parents. This is one of the few examples of negative RNAi
effects on lepidopteran pests via feeding and suggests possible RNAi-based control of pest moths