Transgenic expression of gallerimycin, a novel antifungal insect defensin from the greater wax moth Galleria mellonella, confers resistance to pathogenic fungi in tobacco

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A cDNA encoding gallerimycin, a novel antifungal peptide from the greater wax moth Galleria mellonella, was isolated from a cDNA library of genes expressed during innate immune response in the caterpillars. Upon ectopic expression of gallerimycin in tobacco, using Agrobacterium tumefaciens as a vector, gallerimycin conferred resistance to the fungal pathogens Erysiphe cichoracea-rum and Sclerotinia minor. Quantification of gallerimycin mRNA in transgenic tobacco by real-time PCR confirmed transgenic expression under control of the inducible mannopine synthase promoter. Leaf sap and intercellular washing fluid from transgenic tobacco inhibited in vitro germination and growth of the fungal pathogens, demonstrating that gallerimycin is secreted into intercellular spaces. The feasibility of the use of gallerimycin to counteract fungal diseases in crop plants is discussed.

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