Biotechnology Letters, Vol.28, No.8, 593-599, 2006
Expression of poplar chitinase in tomato leads to inhibition of development in colorado potato beetle
The previously described poplar chitinase, WIN6, is induced during infestation by gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar L.) larvae, thus suggesting a role in defense against insect pests. To test this hypothesis, we produced tomato seedlings infected with a recombinant potato virus X (PVX), which produces WIN6, and tested its insecticidal properties on Colorado potato beetle [CPB; Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say)], which is a serious pest of tomatoes and other crops. The advantage of PVX is that plant material is ready for insect bioassay within 3-4 weeks of constructing the recombinant virus. Considering that production of transgenic tomato seedlings using Agrobacterium takes at least 6 months, this hastens the rate at which genes can be examined. Upon insect bioassay, only 47% CPB neonates feeding on leaves containing > 0.3% w/w WIN6 developed to 2nd instar while 93% of controls reached 2nd instar. To our knowledge this is the first plant chitinase that retards development of an insect pest.