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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Washington, D.C. » National Arboretum » Floral and Nursery Plants Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #308204

Research Project: Biotechnology Applied to High Value Ornamental Plants

Location: Floral and Nursery Plants Research

Title: Expression of a cystatin transgene can confer resistance to root lesion nematodes in Lilium longiflorum

item Vieira, Paulo - California Department Of Food And Agriculture
item Wantoch, Sarah
item Lilley, Catherine - University Of Leeds
item Chitwood, David
item Atkinson, Howard - University Of Leeds
item Kamo, Kathryn - Kathy

Submitted to: Transgenic Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/4/2014
Publication Date: 11/15/2014
Citation: Vieira, P., Wantoch, S.M., Lilley, C., Chitwood, D.J., Atkinson, H., Kamo, K.K. 2014. Expression of a cystatin transgene can confer resistance to root lesion nematodes in Lilium longiflorum. Transgenic Research. DOI: 10.1007/s11248-014-9848-2.

Interpretive Summary: The main problem when growing lilies in the field are root lesion nematodes, Pratylenchus penetrans. There are no commercially available lily cultivars that are resistant to root lesion nematodes, which infect the young roots when they are emerging from the bulbs. Lesions resulting from nematode feeding become a pathway for infection by fungi and bacteria. The fumigants used by growers to control root lesion nematodes have been banned, and the currently used chemicals are expected to be removed from the market in the near future. Easter lilies were engineered with the cystatin gene at the USDA in order to confer resistance to nemotodes. Cystatin is a protease inhibitor that interferes with digestion in the nematode. Our study showed the benefit of engineering Easter lilies with cystatin. The lily bulbs with the cystatin gene were resistant to root lesion nematodes in vitro, and bulbs were larger than control bulbs that did not contain cystatin.

Technical Abstract: Lilium longiflorum cv. “Nellie White” is an economically important cut flower, being one of the most valuable species with an annual wholesale value above $20,000,000 for pot plants sold in the US. The root lesion nematode (Pratylenchus penetrans) is one of the main pests for lily producers due to the significant root damage that they cause. Our efforts have focused on the generation of soybean hairy roots (as a transient test model) and stable transgenic lilies overexpressing a modified rice cystatin (Oc-I'D86) transgene challenged with root lesion nematodes. Lily transformation was obtained by gene gun co-bombardment with the pUC-based vector containing the cystatin gene and pDM307 that contains a bar gene for phosphinothricin selection. Overexpression of the OcI'D86 transgene in both soybean hairy roots and lilies led to enhanced resistance to root lesion nematode infection by a mean nematode reduction up to 75% of their total number. In addition, lily plants overexpressing OcI'D86 displayed an increase in plant mass and improved growth performance in comparison to wild-type plants. This demonstrates an alternative strategy for increasing the yield and reducing the nematode effects of this important floral crop.