TitleArthropod genomics research in the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service: Applications of RNA interference and CRISPR gene editing technologies in pest control
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsGundersen-Rindal, DE, Adrianos, SL, Allen, ML, Becnel, JJ, Chen, YP, Choi, M-Y, Estep, A, Evans, JD, Garczynski, SF, Geib, SM, Ghosh, SKB, Handler, AM, Hasegawa, DK, Heerman, MC, .J.Hull, J, Hunter, WB, Kaur, N, Li, J, Li, W, Ling, K-S, Nayduch, D, Oppert, BS, Perera, OP, Perkin, LC, Sanscrainte, ND, Sim, SB, Sparks, ME, Temeyer, KB, Meer, RKVander, Wintermantel, WM, James, RR, Hackett16, KJ, Coates, BS
JournalTrends in Entomology
Keywordsapplied agricultural research, CRISPR/Cas, Insect Control, RNAi

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the intramural research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which addresses basic scientific questions and develops applied solutions to a range of agricultural problems, and in doing so protects national food security and supports international trade.  The damage to agricultural commodities inflicted by insects and other arthropod pest species causes a reduction in producer output and profitability, thereby affecting product quality, such that the development of novel and effective arthropod control tactics remains a research challenge at USDA ARS.  Additionally, USDA ARS conducts research into arthropod control within urban settings, where damage to dwellings, and ornamental and shade plants are of concern to homeowners and businesses alike.  These goals of controlling pests must be balanced with environmental concerns, including the protection of pollinators and other beneficial species.  The recent development of RNA interference (RNAi) and gene editing technologies, such as Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats and associated protein (CRISPR/Cas), have opened new avenues for the development of novel arthropod control measures.  Future RNAi applications have the potential to increase the specificity and efficacy of pesticide treatments, as well as their environmental sustainability.  In addition, gene editing technologies like CRISPR/Cas provide researchers the means to generate stable genetic modifications within arthropods that facilitate both basic exploratory research, and support efforts to suppress arthropod pest populations using gene drives and other strategies.  In this paper, the current translational research being conducted at USDA ARS using the application of RNAi and gene editing to control arthropod pest species is reviewed, which includes broad scope research encompassing arthropod pests that impact field and orchard crops, ornamentals, urban landscapes, and livestock production.  These efforts and achievements by USDA ARS are contributing to improvements in agricultural production that benefits producers, the agricultural industry, and consumers, both domestically and abroad.