Regeneration of Populus nigra transgenic plants expressing a Kunitz proteinase inhibitor (KTi3) gene

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Transgenic poplar (Populus nigra, cv. Jean Pourtet) plants were recovered as a result of Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation performed with EHA105 pBI-KUN strain. Plasmid pBI-KUN contains a 650 bp insert derived from the soybean (Glycine max L.) KTi3, gene, coding for a Kunitz trypsin proteinase inhibitor. A total of 58 independent transgenic lines were obtained from 200 co-cultivated leaf explants. Southern blot hybridization analysis demonstrated the presence of KTi3 gene in the poplar genome. Northern blot analysis of different kanamycin-resistant plantlets confirmed the accumulation of KTi3 mRNA and revealed different levels of expression. The trypsin inhibitory activity was determined in poplar transgenic tissues by means of specific assay. Moreover, the trypsin-like digestive proteinases of the polyphagous moth Lymantria dispar (Lepidoptera, Lymantriidae) and Clostera anastomosis (Lepidoptera, Notodontidae) were detected and inhibited in vitro by Kunitz proteinase inhibitor from selected transgenic plants. Two insect bioassays were performed on P. nigra transgenic plant lines, using larvae of the above mentioned insects. In both cases larval mortality and growth as well as pupal weight were not significantly affected when the insects were fed on transgenic leaves and control leaves, respectively.

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