Location: Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit
Title: Antibodies in Plants Authors
Submitted to: Floriculture, Ornamental and Plant Biotechnology
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: November 29, 2007
Publication Date: May 5, 2008
Citation: Kamo, K., Jordan, R.L., Hsu, H-T., and Hu, J. 2008. Antibodies in plants. Floriculture, Ornamental and Plant Biotechnology. 5:311-318. Interpretive Summary: This book chapter summarizes the research to date on how antibodies have been used for disease resistance, phytoremediation, and molecular farming to produce large quantities of antibodies needed for medical purposes. It has taken over 15 years to achieve the recent success. An antibody combined with an antifungal protein resulted in high levels of resistance to the fungus Fusarium. Anti-viral antibodies have been used to obtain tobacco plants that were fully resistant to Tobacco mosaic virus and resistant at high levels to Tomato spotted wilt virus. One of the main problems encountered was the low level of anitbody expression in the plant, and high levels of antibodies are needed in the plant to have an effect. This is a very different field of research, and almost all of the work has been done on tobacco as a model plant system.
Technical Abstract: The expression of antibodies in plants has several promising applications that are currently being developed. Plants are being considered for the large scale production of antibodies needed for medical purposes. The benefit of using plants is that they are able to perform post-translational modifications of proteins that bacteria cannot, and antibody production in plants is less expensive than in mammalian cells. There is potential for antibodies expressed in plants to be used for phytoremediation by accumulating and concentrating a targeted pollutant within the plant or by binding and neutralizing a targeted molecule in the rhizosphere if they are secreted by the roots. Plants are also being transformed with antibody genes for protection against various plant pathogens. Effective virus resistance has been engineered in transgenic plants using antibodies that bind to the coat protein, nucleoprotein or RNA-dependent RNA polymerase of the targeted virus. A high degree of resistance to Fusarium has been achieved by combining a fungus-specific antibody with an antifungal protein. Recent research of scientific significance pertaining to antibodies in plants has made these applications possible.