Department of Biology

Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Mark Lever

Environmental Fate of RNA Interference Pesticides: Adsorption and Degradation of Double-Stranded RNA Molecules in Agricultural Soils

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

DOI

  • Kimberly M. Parker, Washington University St. Louis, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
  • ,
  • Verónica Barragán Borrero, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
  • ,
  • Daniël M. Van Leeuwen, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
  • ,
  • Mark A. Lever
  • Bogdan Mateescu, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
  • ,
  • Michael Sander, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) pesticides are a new generation of crop protectants that interfere with protein expression in targeted pest insects by a cellular mechanism called RNA interference (RNAi). The ecological risk assessment of these emerging pesticides necessitates an understanding of the fate of dsRNA molecules in receiving environments, among which agricultural soils are most important. We herein present an experimental approach using phosphorus-32 (32P)-radiolabeled dsRNA that allows studying key fate processes of dsRNA in soils with unprecedented sensitivity. This approach resolves previous analytical challenges in quantifying unlabeled dsRNA and its degradation products in soils. We demonstrate that 32P-dsRNA and its degradation products are quantifiable at concentrations as low as a few nanograms of dsRNA per gram of soil by both Cerenkov counting (to quantify total 32P-activity) and by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis followed by phosphorimaging (to detect intact 32P-dsRNA and its 32P-containing degradation products). We show that dsRNA molecules added to soil suspensions undergo adsorption to soil particle surfaces, degradation in solution, and potential uptake by soil microorganisms. The results of this work on dsRNA adsorption and degradation advance a process-based understanding of the fate of dsRNA in soils and will inform ecological risk assessments of emerging dsRNA pesticides.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume53
Issue6
Pages (from-to)3027-3036
Number of pages10
ISSN0013-936X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant 707432 - dsRNAEnvFate. K.M.P. is supported by the Biotechnology Risk Assessment Grant Program Award 2017-33522-26998 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. M.S. acknowledges support from an ETH Z?rich Research Grant (ETH-14 17-1). The authors acknowledge assistance from Gregory Schott and Marie-Aude Tschopp in developing protocols for working with 32P-dsRNA, Martin Schroth in conducting soil respiration rate measurements, and Robin Tecon in developing microscopy and plating assays.

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant 707432 - dsRNAEnvFate. K.M.P. is supported by the Biotechnology Risk Assessment Grant Program Award 2017-33522-26998 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. M.S. acknowledges support from an ETH Zürich Research Grant (ETH-14 17-1). The authors acknowledge assistance from Gregory Schott and Marie-Aude Tschopp in developing protocols for working with 32P-dsRNA, Martin Schroth in conducting soil respiration rate measurements, and Robin Tecon in developing microscopy and plating assays.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2019 American Chemical Society.

Copyright:
Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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