Transgenic tobacco and peanut plants expressing a mustard defensin show resistance to fungal pathogens

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Defensins are small positively charged, antimicrobial peptides (~5 kDa in size) and some of them exhibit potent antifungal activity. We have cloned the complete cDNA containing an ORF of 243 bp of a defensin of mustard. The deduced amino acid sequence of the peptide showed more than 90% identity to the amino acid sequence of the well-characterized defensins, RsAFP-1 and RsAFP-2 of Raphanus sativus. We have generated and characterized transgenic tobacco and peanut plants constitutively expressing the mustard defensin. Transgenic tobacco plants were resistant to the fungal pathogens, Fusarium moniliforme and Phytophthora parasitica pv. nicotianae. Transgenic peanut plants showed enhanced resistance against the pathogens, Pheaoisariopsis personata and Cercospora arachidicola, which jointly cause serious late leaf spot disease. These observations indicate that the mustard defensin gene can be deployed for deriving fungal disease resistance in transgenic crops.

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This work was supported by a research grant from the Andhra Pradesh-Netherlands Biotechnology Program administered by the Institute of Public Enterprise, Osmania University Campus, Hyderabad. Thanks are due to the Head, Department of Plant Sciences for facilities provided by the UGC-SAP, DST-FIST, and COSIST etc. SKJ and KD are grateful to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India for Research Fellowships. SKJ and KD received the Research Fellowships from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of India.

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Correspondence to P. B. Kirti.

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Communicated by A. Atanassov.

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Swathi Anuradha, T., Divya, K., Jami, S.K. et al. Transgenic tobacco and peanut plants expressing a mustard defensin show resistance to fungal pathogens. Plant Cell Rep 27, 1777–1786 (2008) doi:10.1007/s00299-008-0596-8

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  • Mustard defensin
  • Transgenic tobacco
  • Transgenic peanut
  • Fusarium moniliforme
  • Phytophthora parasitica pv. nicotianae
  • Leaf spot disease