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Potential Use of a Serpin from Arabidopsis for Pest Control

By Fernando Alvarez-Alfageme, Jafar Maharramov, Laura Carrillo, Steven Vandenabeele, Dominique Vercammen, Frank Van Breusegem and Guy Smagghe

Abstract

Although genetically modified (GM) plants expressing toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) protect agricultural crops against lepidopteran and coleopteran pests, field-evolved resistance to Bt toxins has been reported for populations of several lepidopteran species. Moreover, some important agricultural pests, like phloem-feeding insects, are not susceptible to Bt crops. Complementary pest control strategies are therefore necessary to assure that the benefits provided by those insect-resistant transgenic plants are not compromised and to target those pests that are not susceptible. Experimental GM plants producing plant protease inhibitors have been shown to confer resistance against a wide range of agricultural pests. In this study we assessed the potential of AtSerpin1, a serpin from Arabidopsis thaliana (L). Heynh., for pest control. In vitro assays were conducted with a wide range of pests that rely mainly on either serine or cysteine proteases for digestion and also with three non-target organisms occurring in agricultural crops. AtSerpin1 inhibited proteases from all pest and non-target species assayed. Subsequently, the cotton leafworm Spodoptera littoralis Boisduval and the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum (Harris) were fed on artificial diets containing AtSerpin1, and S. littoralis was also fed on transgenic Arabidopsis plants overproducing AtSerpin1. AtSerpin1 supplied in the artificial diet or by transgenic plants reduced the growth of S. littoralis larvae by 65% and 38%, respectively, relative to controls. Nymphs of A. pisum exposed to diets containing AtSerpin1 suffered high mortality levels (LC50 = 637 µg ml−1). The results indicate that AtSerpin1 is a good candidate for exploitation in pest control

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:3104999
Provided by: PubMed Central

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