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Transgenic Res. 2003 Oct;12(5):555-67.

Pea lectin expressed transgenically in oilseed rape reduces growth rate of pollen beetle larvae.

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  • 1Svalöf Weibull AB, SE 268 81, Svalöv, Sweden.


In several studies plant lectins have shown promise as transgenic resistance factors against various insect pests. We have here shown that pea seed lectin is a potential candidate for use against pollen beetle, a serious pest of Brassica oilseeds. In feeding assays where pollen beetle larvae were fed oilseed rape anthers soaked in a 1% solution of pea lectin there was a reduction in survival of 84% compared to larvae on control treatment and the weight of surviving larvae was reduced by 79%. When a 10% solution of pea lectin was used all larvae were dead after 4 days of testing. To further evaluate the potential use of pea lectin, transgenic plants of oilseed rape (Brassica napus cv. Westar) were produced in which the pea lectin gene under control of the pollen-specific promoter Sta44-4 was introduced. In 11 out of 20 tested plants of the T0-generation there was a significant reduction in larval weight, which ranged up to 46% compared to the control. A small but significant reduction in larval survival rate was also observed. In the T2-generation significant weight reductions, with a maximum of 32%, were obtained in 10 out of 33 comparisons between transgenic plants and their controls. Pea lectin concentrations in anthers of transgenic T2-plants ranged up to 1.5% of total soluble protein. There was a negative correlation between lectin concentration and larval growth. Plants from test groups with significant differences in larval weights had a significantly higher mean pea lectin concentration, 0.64% compared to 0.15% for plants from test groups without effect on larval weight. These results support the conclusion that pea lectin is a promising resistance factor for use in Brassica oilseeds against pollen beetles.

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