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Open Access Research article

Modified expression of alternative oxidase in transgenic tomato and petunia affects the level of tomato spotted wilt virus resistance

Hao Ma12, Congfeng Song13, Wayne Borth1, Diane Sether1, Michael Melzer1 and John Hu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA

2 Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA

3 College of Plant Protection, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province 210095, China

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BMC Biotechnology 2011, 11:96  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-11-96

Published: 20 October 2011

Abstract

Background

Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) has a very wide host range, and is transmitted in a persistent manner by several species of thrips. These characteristics make this virus difficult to control. We show here that the over-expression of the mitochondrial alternative oxidase (AOX) in tomato and petunia is related to TSWV resistance.

Results

The open reading frame and full-length sequence of the tomato AOX gene LeAox1au were cloned and introduced into tomato 'Healani' and petunia 'Sheer Madness' using Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Highly expressed AOX transgenic tomato and petunia plants were selfed and transgenic R1 seedlings from 10 tomato lines and 12 petunia lines were used for bioassay. For each assayed line, 22 to 32 tomato R1 progeny in three replications and 39 to 128 petunia progeny in 13 replications were challenged with TSWV. Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays showed that the TSWV levels in transgenic tomato line FKT4-1 was significantly lower than that of wild-type controls after challenge with TSWV. In addition, transgenic petunia line FKP10 showed significantly less lesion number and smaller lesion size than non-transgenic controls after inoculation by TSWV.

Conclusion

In all assayed transgenic tomato lines, a higher percentage of transgenic progeny had lower TSWV levels than non-transgenic plants after challenge with TSWV, and the significantly increased resistant levels of tomato and petunia lines identified in this study indicate that altered expression levels of AOX in tomato and petunia can affect the levels of TSWV resistance.