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Journal of Pest Science

, Volume 78, Issue 4, pp 187–191 | Cite as

Drugs from bugs: the use of insects as a valuable source of transgenes with potential in modern plant protection strategies

  • Andreas Vilcinskas
  • Jürgen Gross
Review

Abstract

Transgenic expression of antimicrobial peptides in crops has become a novel approach among the strategies to combat phytopathogens in modern plant protection measures. The first antimicrobial transgenes of insect origin, modified cecropins, have been demonstrated to confer resistance of several transgenic cultivars against both bacterial and fungal phytopathogens. Insects represent a promising reservoir for antimicrobial peptides to engineer disease resistant crops. The increasing knowledge about the potent insect innate immunity may help to develop a novel strategy in sustainable agriculture. Several approaches are presently under investigation to prevent evolution of phytopathogens that can overcome disease resistance in transgenic crops expressing an insect antimicrobial peptide. Pathogen-induced expression of insect antimicrobial peptides in crops and combined multiple expression of different antimicrobial peptides along with proteinase inhibitors from insects may prevent selection of resistant phytopathogens. The potential of insect antimicrobial peptides as transgenes to render disease resistant crops has just started to be explored and may provide tools to be ahead of the evolutionary adaptability of phytopathogens.

Keywords

Antimicrobial peptides Cecropin Defensin Protease inhibitors Phytopathogens 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Phytopathology and Applied ZoologyJustus-Liebig UniversityGießenGermany
  2. 2.Federal Biological Research Centre for Agriculture and ForestryInstitute for Plant Protection in Fruit CropsDossenheimGermany

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