Original article


, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 128-138

First online:

RNA interference in honeybees: off-target effects caused by dsRNA

  • Antje JaroschAffiliated withInstitut für Biologie, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg Email author 
  • , Robin F. A. MoritzAffiliated withInstitut für Biologie, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-WittenbergDepartment of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria

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RNA interference involves the targeted knockdown of mRNA triggered by complementary dsRNA molecules applied to an experimental organism. Although this technique has been successfully used in honeybees (Apis mellifera), it remains unclear whether the application of dsRNA leads to unintended expression knockdown in unspecific, non-targeted genes. Therefore, we studied the gene expression of four non-target genes coding for proteins that are involved in different physiological processes after treatment with three dsRNAs in two abdominal tissues. We found unspecific gene downregulation depending on both the dsRNA used and the different tissues. Hence, RNAi experiments in the honeybee require rigid controls and carefully selected dsRNA sequences to avoid misinterpretation of RNAi-derived phenotypes.


RNA interference honeybees off-target effects real-time PCR