High-efficiency transformation and selective tolerance against biotic and abiotic stress in mulberry, Morus indica cv. K2, by constitutive and inducible expression of tobacco osmotin
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Osmotin and osmotin-like proteins are stress proteins belonging to the plant PR-5 group of proteins induced in several plant species in response to various types of biotic and abiotic stresses. We report here the overexpression of tobacco osmotin in transgenic mulberry plants under the control of a constitutive promoter (CaMV 35S) as well as a stress-inducible rd29A promoter. Southern analysis of the transgenic plants revealed the stable integration of the introduced genes in the transformants. Real-time PCR analysis provided evidence for the expression of osmotin in the transgenic plants under both the constitutive and stress-inducible promoters. Transgenic plants with the stress-inducible promoter were observed to better tolerate salt and drought stress than those with the constitutive promoter. Transgenic plants when subjected to simulated salinity and drought stress conditions showed better cellular membrane stability (CMS) and photosynthetic yield than non-transgenic plants under conditions of both salinity and drought stress. Proline levels were very high in transgenic plants with the constitutive promoter relative to those with the stress-inducible promoter. Fungal challenge undertaken with three fungal species known to cause serious losses to mulberry cultivation, namely, Fusarium pallidoroseum, Colletotrichum gloeosporioides and Colletotrichum dematium, revealed that transgenic plants with osmotin under control of the constitutive promoter had a better resistance than those with osmotin under the control of the stress-inducible promoter. Evaluation in next generation was undertaken by studying bud break in transgenic and non-transgenic plants under simulated drought (2% polyethylene glycol) and salt stress (200 mM NaCl) conditions. The axillary buds of the selected transgenic lines had a better bud break percentage under stressed conditions than buds from non-transgenic mulberry lines. A biotic assay with Bombyx mori indicated that osmotin protein had no undesirable effect on silkworm rearing and feeding. We therefore conclude that 35S transgenic plants are better suited for both abiotic stress also biotic challenges (fungal), while the rd29A transgenic plants are more responsive to drought.