Abdulrazak B. Ibrahim of Embrapa Recursos Genéticos e Biotecnologia,
together with colleagues, constructed an RNAi-based plasmid that targets the
v-ATPase enzyme, known to have diverse functions in membranes including ion
transport, in whitefly (Bemisia tabaci). The transgene was transformed into
selected lettuce (Lactuca sativa) plants. The presence of the transgene was
confirmed in T0 and T1 generations of transgenic lettuce lines, segregating
in a Mendelian fashion.
Seven lines were infested with whiteflies and monitored over a period of 32
days. Analysis showed that within five days of feeding, insects that fed on
transgenic plants showed a mortality rate of 83.8?98.1%. Moreover, a huge
reduction in the number of eggs was observed in flies feeding on transgenic
lettuce plants than on control lines. Analysis of the whiteflies showed
decreased expression level of endogenous v-ATPase gene in whiteflies feeding
on transgenic plants.
This study could be a foundation for the production of whitefly-resistant