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Crop Biotech Update

Transgenic Tomatoes Resistant to Cutworm

March 28, 2008

Scientists from the Suranaree University of Technology in Thailand and Louisiana State University have developed transgenic tomato lines with increased resistance to the common cutworm. The transgenic lines were modified to express a potato gene coding for the enzyme polyphenol oxidase (PPO). Polyphenol oxidase, which has also been implicated for plant resistance to the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae catalyzes the conversion of phenolics to quinones, plant secondary metabolites that are involved in pathogen defense.

Growth rates of cutworm in the PPO-expressing lines were up to three times lower compared to their non-transgenic counterparts. Higher levels of PPO also resulted to increased larval mortality, with the cutworm third instar consuming less foliage. The results suggest a critical role for PPO-mediated phenolic oxidation in pest resistance.

For more information read the article published by the Plant Journal at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.plantsci.2008.01.006