Prolonged gene knockdown in the tsetse fly Glossina by feeding double stranded RNA


M. J. Lehane, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Pembroke Place, Liverpool, L3 5QA. UK. Tel.: +44 (0)151 705 3316; Fax: +44 (0)151 705 3369; E-mail:


Reverse genetic studies based on RNA interference (RNAi) have revolutionized analysis of gene function in most insects. However the necessity of injecting double stranded RNA (dsRNA) inevitably compromises many investigations particularly those on immunity. Additionally, injection of tsetse flies often causes significant mortality. We demonstrate, at transcript and protein level, that delivering dsRNA in the bloodmeal to Glossina morsitans morsitans is as effective as injection in knockdown of the immunoresponsive midgut-expressed gene TsetseEP. However, feeding dsRNA fails to knockdown the fat body expressed transferrin gene, 2A192, previously shown to be silenced by dsRNA injection. Mortality rates of the dsRNA fed flies were significantly reduced compared to injected flies 14 days after treatment (Fed: 10.1%± 1.8%; injected: 37.9% ± 3.6% (Mean ± SEM)). This is the first demonstration in Diptera of gene knockdown by feeding and the first example of knockdown in a blood-sucking insect by including dsRNA in the bloodmeal.