Dragonflies and damselflies (order Odonata) represent one of the most ancestral insects with metamorphosis, in which they change their habitat, morphology, and behavior drastically from aquatic larvae to terrestrial/aerial adults without pupal stage. Odonata adults have a well-developed color vision and show a remarkable diversity in body colors and patterns across sexes, stages, and species. While many ecological and behavioral studies on Odonata have been conducted, molecular genetic studies have been scarce mainly due to the difficulty in applying gene functional analysis to Odonata. For instance, RNA interference (RNAi) is less effective in the Odonata, as reported in the Lepidoptera. To overcome this problem, we successfully established an RNAi method combined with in vivo electroporation. Here we provide a detailed protocol including a video of the electroporation-mediated RNAi method as follows: preparation of larvae, species identification, preparation of dsRNA/siRNA solution and injection needles, ice-cold anesthesia of larvae, dsRNA/siRNA injection, in vivo electroporation, and individual rearing until adult emergence. The electroporation-mediated RNAi method is applicable to both damselflies (suborder Zygoptera) and dragonflies (suborder Anisoptera). In this protocol, we present the methods for the blue-tailed damselfly Ischnura senegalensis (Coenagrionidae) as an example of damselfly species and the pied skimmer dragonfly Pseudothemis zonata (Libellulidae) as another example of dragonfly species. As representative examples, we show the results of RNAi targeting the melanin synthesis gene multicopper oxidase 2. This RNAi method will facilitate understanding of various gene functions involved in metamorphosis, morphogenesis, color pattern formation, and other biological features of Odonata. Moreover, this protocol may be generally applicable to non-model organisms in which RNAi is less effective in gene suppression due to the inefficiency and low penetrance.



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