, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 325-335

Expression of a stilbene synthase gene in Nicotiana tabacum results in synthesis of the phytoalexin resveratrol

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A gene from groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) coding for stilbene synthase was transferred together with a chimaeric kanamycin resistance gene. It was found to be rapidly expressed after induction with UV light and elicitor in tobacco cells (Nicotiana tabacum). Comparative studies of stilbene synthase mRNA synthesis in groudnut and transgenic tobacco suspension cultures revealed the same kinetics of gene expression. Stilbene synthase specific mRNA was detectable 30 minutes after elicitor induction and 10 minutes after UV irradiation. The maximum of mRNA accumulation was between 2 and 8 hours post induction. 24 hours after induction stilbene synthase mRNA accumulation ceased. Furthermore, in transgenic tobacco plants, the gene was found to be inducible in sterile roots, stems and leaves. Stilbene synthase was demonstrated in crude protein extracts from transgenic tobacco cell cultures using specific antibodies. Resveratrol, the product of stilbene synthase, was identified by HPLC and antisera raised against resveratrol.