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USDA scientists use RNAi technique on fire ants

USDA researchers are investigating whether RNA interference (RNAi) techniques can be used in the control of imported fire ants (Solenopsis spp). USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists injected ants with double-stranded RNAi (dsRNA) of the pheromone biosynthesis activating neuropeptide (PBAN) gene or its receptor gene and found that pheromone production was reduced. They also discovered that adult ants or larvae injected with the dsRNA had "significant mortality" compared with controls. Pupae that received the treatment had delayed development and a higher death rate. The scientists plan to investigate whether other pheromones are activated by PBAN and if dsRNA can be used for fire ant control.

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