, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 529-544
Date: 29 Jan 2009

Tissue specific expression of potent insecticidal, Allium sativum leaf agglutinin (ASAL) in important pulse crop, chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) to resist the phloem feeding Aphis craccivora

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The phloem sap-sucking hemipteran insect, Aphis craccivora, commonly known as cowpea aphid, cause major yield loss of important food legume crop chickpea. Among different plant lectins Allium sativum leaf agglutinin (ASAL), a mannose binding lectin was found to be potent antifeedant for sap sucking insect A. craccivora. Present study describes expression of ASAL in chickpea through Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of “single cotyledon with half embryo” explant. ASAL was expressed under the control of CaMV35S promoter for constitutive expression and phloem specific rolC promoter for specifically targeting the toxin at feeding site, using pCAMBIA2301 vector containing plant selection marker nptII. Southern blot analysis demonstrated the integration and copy number of chimeric ASAL gene in chickpea and its inheritance in T1 and T2 progeny plants. Expression of ASAL in T0 and T1 plants was confirmed through northern and western blot analysis. The segregation pattern of ASAL transgene was observed in T1 progenies, which followed the 3:1 Mendelian ratio. Enzyme linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) determined the level of ASAL expression in different transgenic lines in the range of 0.08–0.38% of total soluble protein. The phloem tissue specific expression of ASAL gene driven by rolC promoter has been monitored by immunolocalization analysis of mature stem sections. Survival and fecundity of A. craccivora decreased to 11–26% and 22–42%, respectively when in planta bioassay conducted on T1 plants compared to untransformed control plant which showed 85% survival. Thus, through unique approach of phloem specific expression of novel insecticidal lectin (ASAL), aphid resistance has been successfully achieved in chickpea.