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Nat Biotechnol. 2001 Apr;19(4):371-4.

Suppression of a P450 hydroxylase gene in plant trichome glands enhances natural-product-based aphid resistance.

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Plant Physiology/Biochemistry/Molecular Biology Program, Agronomy Department, N212 ASCN, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546-0091, USA.


Trichome glands on the surface of many higher plants produce and secrete exudates affecting insects, microbes, and herbivores. Metabolic engineering of gland exudation has potential for improving pest/disease resistance, and for facilitating molecular farming. We identified a cytochrome P450 hydroxylase gene specific to the trichome gland and used both antisense and sense co-suppression strategies to investigate its function. P450-suppressed transgenic tobacco plants showed a > or =41% decrease in the predominant exudate component, cembratriene-diol (CBT-diol), and a > or =19-fold increase in its precursor, cembratriene-ol (CBT-ol). Thus, the level of CBT-ol was raised from 0.2 to > or =4.3% of leaf dry weight. Exudate from antisense-expressing plants had higher aphidicidal activity, and transgenic plants with exudate containing high concentrations of CBT-ol showed greatly diminished aphid colonization responses. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of significantly modifying the natural-product chemical composition and aphid-interactive properties of gland exudates using metabolic engineering. The results also have implications for molecular farming.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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