The development of RNAi formulations will be initiated against insect pests that have developed high resistance levels against chemical pesticides and for which alternative control strategies are highly desirable.
RNAi products are already used to control coleopteran pests, such as Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Colorado potato beetle) and Diabrotica virgifera (Western corn rootworm), because these insects are sensitive to the uptake of dsRNA (RNAi trigger) from the environment. Our challenge will be to develop RNAi products against new pests. For instance, the South American tomato moth, Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae), is an invasive pest that causes global losses in tomato production amounting to 5-10% of the crop yield. The moth Lobesia botrana (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) is the major pest of grapes in the Mediterranean, South America and California and has a great economic impact. The red palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), is also an invasive pest and a serious threat of palm trees, such as the oil palm, date palm and coconut. The estimated annual losses are several hundred million Euros due to this invasive species.