Snowdrop proteins control aphids
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CTA. 1993. Snowdrop proteins control aphids. Spore 46. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/49191
The snowdrop, a winter flowering bulb from temperate zones, produces proteins that give protection from aphid attack. If the ability to make those same proteins can be transferred into crop plants, then those crops, too, may be protected against...
The snowdrop, a winter flowering bulb from temperate zones, produces proteins that give protection from aphid attack. If the ability to make those same proteins can be transferred into crop plants, then those crops, too, may be protected against aphids. This IS the rationale behind a research programme supported by the Agricultural Genetics Company (AGC) in the UK. The programme began when scientists at the Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium, were studying lectins, a group of plant proteins. Most plants make lectins but the snowdrop produces a particularly potent form which is harmful to aphids. The work was then taken up through the AGC by scientists at Durham University, UK. They found that aphids died when fed on a diet containing the isolated snow drop lectin. The next step was to find the gene that made these lectins, and then transfer it into other plants. This has been achieved with tobacco, and scientists hone soon to confer the trait on oilseed rape and potatoes. When plants containing the snowdrop lectins are challenged by aphids, the insects are not killed immediately. They become less active and therefore cause less damage to the plant. Since they are not able to breed as quickly, the aphid population does not increase in the usual way. Similar results have been obtained by feeding artificial diets containing lectins to other sap-sucking pests, such as the planthoppers, which attack rice. Scientists are hopeful that, in time, all sap-sucking pests will be controllable in this way. Applied Plant Technology Laboratory Agricultural Genetics Company Babraham Cambridge CB2 4AZ UK