The brown planthopper (Nilaparvata lugens), or BPH, is one of the most
destructive insect pests in Asia, demonstrating high fertility and causing
huge crop losses in rice yield. However, genomic studies on BPH are
seriously hampered by lack of genetic tools. The team of Wen-Hua Xue from
Zhejiang University in China tried to apply CRISPR-Cas9 on BPH by targeting
two eye pigmentation genes to generate mutations.
The team found that injection of a single guide RNA targeting the cinnabar
gene (Nl-cn) into BPH eggs induced mutations in the founder generation (G0).
These mutations were then inherited by the following generation, leading to
bright red compound eyes and ocelli. Another gene, BPH white gene (Nl-w),
was also targeted by a separate CRISPR sgRNA. This generated a high mutant
rate of up to 27.3%, resulting in mosaic eyes consisting of white and
lightly pigmented ommatidia in both G0 and G1individuals.
These results show that CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing can be done on a hemipteran
insect, offering a valuable tool for pest management of BPH.