Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 388–396 | Cite as

Expression of a magainin-type antimicrobial peptide gene (MSI-99) in tomato enhances resistance to bacterial speck disease

Genetic Transformation and Hybridization


MSI-99 is a synthetic analog of magainin II (MII), a small cationic peptide highly inhibitory to a wide spectrum of microbial organisms. Tomato plants were transformed to express a gene encoding the MSI-99 peptide and tested for possible enhancement of resistance to important pathogens of this crop. Thirty-six tomato transformants carrying an MSI-99 expression vector designed to target the peptide into extracellular spaces were obtained by Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation. Expression of MSI-99 caused no obvious cytotoxic effects in these plants. In the tests with Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato (bacterial speck pathogen) at 105 CFU/ml, several MSI-99-expressing lines developed significantly fewer disease symptoms than controls. However, MSI-99-expressing lines were not significantly different from controls in their responses to the fungal pathogen Alternaria solani (early blight) and the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans (late blight). These findings are in accordance with our previous in vitro inhibition tests, which showed that the MSI-99 peptide is more inhibitory against bacteria than against fungi and oomycetes. Additional in vitro inhibition assays showed that MSI-99 loses its antimicrobial activity in the total or extracellular fluids from leaflets of non-transformed tomato plants; however, P. syringae pv. tomato could not multiply in the extracellular fluid from an MSI-99-expressing line. Our results suggest that expression strategies providing continuous high expression of MSI-99 will be necessary to achieve significant enhancement of plant disease resistance.


Disease resistance Cationic peptides Extracellular targeting Lycopersicon esculentum 



Antimicrobial peptide


Colony forming unit


Extracellular fluid


β-glucuronidase gene


Neomycin phosphotransferase II


Signal peptide


Total fluid



We gratefully acknowledge the Turkish Ministry of National Education and the Department of Plant Breeding, Cornell University for providing financial support to Ali Alan. The research was also supported by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station Project 149-422 from CSREES/USDA and by the Cornell University Center for Biotechnology. We thank Sanford Scientific for providing the pSAN147 construct. Special thanks to Chris Smart and Hillary Mayton for providing P. infestans cultures and for their assistance in the interpretation of the results obtained from assays with this organism. We also thank Kerrie Seberg for her help with in vitro bioassays.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant BreedingCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.Ball HelixWest ChicagoUSA

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