Concanavalin A inhibits development of tomato moth (Lacanobia oleracea) and peach-potato aphid (Myzus persicae) when expressed in transgenic potato plants

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  2. Professor Angharad MR Gatehouse
  3. Gillian Davison
Author(s)Davison GM; Gatehouse AMR; Stewart JN; Galehouse LN; Kumar A; Geoghegan IE; Birch ANE; Gatehouse JA
Publication type Article
JournalMolecular Breeding
ISSN (print)1380-3743
ISSN (electronic)1572-9788
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The effects of concanavalin A (ConA), a glucose/mannose-specific lectin from jackbean (Canavalia ensiformis), on insect crop pests from two different orders, Lepidoptera and Homoptera, were investigated. When fed to larvae of tomato moth (Lacanobia oleracea) at a range of concentrations (0.02-2.0% of total protein) in artificial diet, ConA decreased survival, with up to 90% mortality observed at the highest dose level, and retarded development, but had only a small effect on larval weight. When fed to peach-potato aphids (Myzus persicae) at a range of concentrations (1-9 mu M) in liquid artificial diet, ConA reduced aphid size by up to 30%, retarded development to maturity, and reduced fecundity (production of offspring) by >35%, but had little effect on survival. With both insects, there was a poor correlation between lectin dose and the quantitative effect. Constitutive expression of ConA in transgenic potatoes driven by the CaMV 35S promoter resulted in the protein accumulating to levels lower than predicted, possibly due to potato not being able to adequately reproduce the post-translational processing of this lectin which occurs in jackbean. However, the expressed lectin was functionally active as a haemagglutinin. Bioassay of L. oleracea larvae on ConA-expressing potato plants showed that the lectin retarded larval development, and decreased larval weights by >45%, but had no significant effect on survival. It also decreased consumption of plant tissue by the larvae. In agreement with the diet bioassay results, ConA-expressing potatoes decreased the fecundity of M. persicae by up to 45%. ConA thus has potential as a protective agent against insect pests in transgenic crops.
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