Molecular Breeding

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 183–194 | Cite as

Testing transgenes for insect resistance using Arabidopsis

  • Michael O. Santos
  • Michael J. Adang
  • John N. All
  • H. Roger Boerma
  • Wayne A. Parrott


One possible strategy to delay the selection of resistant insect populations is the pyramiding of multiple resistance genes into a single cultivar. However, the transformation of most major crops remains prohibitively expensive if a large number of transgene combinations are to be evaluated. Arabidopsis thaliana is a potentially good plant for such preliminary evaluations. We determined that four major agricultural pests, Spodoptera exigua, Helicoverpa zea, Pseudoplusia includens, and Heliothis virescens grew as well when feeding on ‘Landsberg Erecta’ Arabidopsis as they did on plants of ‘Cobb’ soybean. Landsberg Erecta was then transformed with either a synthetic Bacillus thuringiensis cryIA(c) gene, or the cowpea trypsin inhibitor gene. Transformed plants were crossed to produce plants transgenic for both genes. Following quantification of transgene expression, the four caterpillar species were allowed to feed on wild-type plants, plants expressing either cryIA(c) or the cowpea trypsin inhibitor gene, or plants expressing both. Both genes reduced growth of the species tested, but cryIA(c) was more effective in controlling caterpillar growth than the cowpea trypsin inhibitor gene. The resistance of plants with both transgenes was lower than that of plants expressing the cryIA(c) gene alone, but higher than that of plants expressing the only the CpTI gene. This could be due to a lower concentration of Cry protein in the hemizygous F1 plants. Thus, if the cowpea trypsin inhibitor had any potentiation effect on cryIA(c), this effect was less than the cryIA(c) copy number effect. Alternatively, expression of the trypsin inhibitor gene could be antagonistic to the function of the cryIA(c) gene. Either way, these results suggest that the combined use of these two genes may not be effective.

Arabidopsis thaliana Bacillus thuringiensis cowpea trypsin inhibitor insect resistance pyramiding soybean 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael O. Santos
    • 1
  • Michael J. Adang
    • 2
  • John N. All
    • 2
  • H. Roger Boerma
    • 1
  • Wayne A. Parrott
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Crop and Soil SciencesUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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