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Expression of a wolf spider toxin in tobacco inhibits the growth of microbes and insects

Eric T. Johnson, Patrick F. Dowd, Stephen R. Hughes
Biotechnology letters 2014 v.36 no.8 pp. 1735-1742
Alternaria alternata, Helicoverpa zea, Lasioderma serricorne, Lycosa, Nicotiana, Pseudomonas syringae, antimicrobial peptides, correlation, gene expression, growth retardation, insect growth, insecticidal properties, insects, larvae, leaves, microbial growth, pathogens, pathovars, pest resistance, pests, survival rate, tobacco, toxicity, toxins
Lycotoxin I, from the wolf spider (Lycosa carolinensis), is an amphipathic pore-forming peptide that has antimicrobial and anti-insect activity. Constitutive expression of a lycotoxin I odified for oral toxicity to insects in tobacco (Nicotiana abacum) conferred significantly enhanced resistance to larvae of the corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea) and cigarette beetle (Lasioderma serricorne). Gene expression levels of modified lycotoxin I were negatively correlated to the survival of corn earworm larvae. In addition, pathogenic symptoms caused by Pseudomonas syringae pathovar tabaci and Alternaria alternata on the modified lycotoxin I-expressing leaves were significantly less severe than on wild type leaves. These results indicate that modified lycotoxin I expression in tobacco can potentially protect leaf tissue from a broad spectrum of pests and pathogens.