The EU needs to reduce the unacceptable risk of its reliance on imported protein (the protein self-sufficiency rate is about 36").
This is best achieved by making grain legume production more efficient and competitive. Fungal pathogens impose inefficiences on grain legume production through both direct damage to crops and the requirement for fungicides. Transformation technology in legumes has now advanced to the stage where applications can now be considered. It is proposed to build new pathogen resistance into the major European grain legumes and to test the effectiveness in biomclecular, glasshouse and field tests. Genes for three types of potentially useful anti-fungal plant-derived proteins will be introduced into the major European grain legumes.
These three types are: the gene for the phytoalexin-synthesising enzyme stilbene synthase; the gene for an inhibitor of an important cell wall degrading enzyme of fungal pathogens, polygalacturonase inhibiting protein (PGIP); and a combination of the genes for osmotin and endo-chitinase.
Additional genes are available to the participants and will be used if the progress of the work allows.
These genes will be driven by suitable promoters and transformants will be screened for stable integration and suitable levels of expression. The efficiency of transformation methods will be compared and the best one selected to permit the generation of sufficient transformants to be screened for expression levels.
Studies will be made on the effect of the expression of these transgenes on major pathogens of peas, faba beans, chickpeas and lupins. These pathogens will include Botrytis species in all four grain legume crops, and species of the Ascochyta complex and the foot and root rot complex in the first three crops. The effects of transgene expression will be studied at three levels. Fungal growth in infected tissues will be quantified rapidly using ELISA; whole plant tests in containment will be performed by commercial breeders; and field trials will be made by a consortium of breeders to test effectiveness against selected pea pathogens in a field experiment.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
6080 AA Haelen
DD2 5DA Dundee
80055 Portici Napoli