Non-nematode-derived double-stranded RNAs induce profound phenotypic changes in Meloidogyne incognita and Globodera pallida infective juveniles

Johnathan Dalzell, Steven McMaster, Michael Johnston, Rachel Kerr, Colin Fleming, Aaron Maule

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Nine non-nematode-derived double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs), designed for use as controls in RNA interference (RNAi) screens of neuropeptide targets, were found to induce aberrant phenotypes and an unexpected inhibitory effect on motility of root knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita J2s following 24 h soaks in 0.1 mg/ml dsRNA; a simple soaking procedure which we have found to elicit profound knockdown of neuronal targets in Globodera pallida J2s. We have established that this inhibitory phenomenon is both time- and concentration-dependent, as shorter 4 h soaks in 0.1 mg/ml dsRNA had no negative impact on M. incognita J2 stage worms, yet a 10-fold increase in concentration to 1 mg/ml for the same 4 h time period had an even greater qualitative and quantitative impact on worm phenotype and motility. Further, a 10-fold increase of J2s soaked in 0.1 mg/ml dsRNA did not significantly alter the observed phenotypic aberration, which suggests that dsRNA uptake of the soaked J2s is not saturated under these conditions. This phenomenon was not initially observed in potato cyst nematode G. pallida J2s, which displayed no aberrant phenotype, or diminution of migratory activity in response to the same 0.1 mg/ml dsRNA 24 h soaks. However, a 10-fold increase in dsRNA to 1 mg/ml was found to elicit comparable irregularity of phenotype and inhibition of motility in G. pallida, to that initially observed in M. incognita following a 24 h soak in 0.1 mg/ml dsRNA. Again, a 10-fold increase in the number of G. pallida J2s soaked in the same volume of 1 mg/ml dsRNA preparation did not significantly affect the observed phenotypic deviation. We do not observe any global impact on transcript abundance in either M. incognita or G. pallida J2s following 0.1 mg/ml dsRNA soaks, as revealed by reverse transcriptase-PCR and quantitative PCR data. This study aims to raise awareness of a phenomenon which we observe consistently and which we believe signifies a more expansive deficiency in our knowledge and understanding of the variables inherent to RNAi-based investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1503-1516
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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