The homopteran group of polyphagous sucking insect pests causes severe damage to many economically important plants including tobacco. Allium sativum leaf lectin (ASAL), a mannose-binding 25-kDa homodimeric protein, has recently been found to be antagonistic to various sucking insects in the homopteran group through artificial diet bioassay experiments. The present study describes, for the first time, the expression of the ASAL coding sequence under the control of the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter in tobacco by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation technology. Molecular analyses demonstrated the integration of the chimeric ASAL gene in tobacco and its inheritance in the progeny plants. Western blot analysis followed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) determined the level of ASAL expression in different lines to be in the range of approximately 0.68%-2% of total soluble plant protein. An in planta bioassay conducted with Myzus persicae, peach potato aphid (a devastating pest of tobacco and many other important plants), revealed that the percentage of insect survival decreased significantly to 16%-20% in T0 plants and T1 progeny, whilst approximately 75% of insects survived on untransformed tobacco plants after 144 h of incubation. Ligand analyses of insect brush border membrane vesicle receptors and expressed ASAL in transgenic tobacco showed that the expressed ASAL binds to the aphid gut receptor in the same manner as native ASAL, pointing to the fact that ASAL maintains the biochemical characteristics even in the transgenic situation. These findings in a model plant open up the possibility of expressing the novel ASAL gene in a wide range of crop plants susceptible to various sap-sucking insects.
- Allium sativum leaf lectin (ASAL)
- Insect resistance
- Myzus persicae
- Transgenic tobacco