No transgenic technologies yet exist to enhance plant immune recognition of insect herbivores. Technologies to combat herbivores via transgenes rely on expression of bacterial cryotoxins but frequently break down due to evolved resistance in pests.
Researchers from UC San Diego and UC Riverside describe a first pattern recognition receptor for chewing herbivores, detecting caterpillar-associated peptide fragments. They have discovered an Inceptin Receptor (INR), a polynulceotide sequence encoding a receptor protein, and its function in transgenic plants to enhance herbivore resistance. The INR protein product allows plants to respond to proteolytic fragments in the oral secretions of Lepidopteran larval herbivores (caterpillars). Responses include production of defensive ethylene, reactive oxygen species, and peroxidases that in sum slow the growth of chewing herbivores.
The INR receptor activates defense responses to herbivores. Responses include production of defensive ethylene, reactive oxygen species, and peroxidases that in sum slow the growth of chewing herbivores.
INR can function as a transgene in distantly related plant species. Several crop species, including soybean tomato eggplant etc do not respond to inceptin peptides but are susceptible to herbivory; INR transgenic technology is predicted to enhance resistance in these crops.
Working prototype stage ‐‐ Transgenic plant lines developed with peptide responses and enhanced herbivore defenses.
UC San Diego is seeking partners to commercialize this technology.