The objectives of the project are an improvement of fruit quality (parthenocarpic development) and an increased resistance to virus diseases in horticolture species.
The project is divided in two parts.
Part one: Genetic engineering of parthenocarpic development. This part aims to build transgenic plants for chimeric genes able to cause a localised endogenous increase in auxin content and activity during early phases of flower development in order to obtain fruit development without fertilisation.
The three steps of this part will be: i) engineering the chimerical gene, ii) introduction in horticultural plants, iii) molecular analysis of transgenic plants.
Transformation protocols of melon, eggplant and tomato have been developed at the ISPORT (Rotino & Gleddie, 1990; Ficcadenti & Rotino, 1995). One set of the gene contructs has been provided by Dr. Hans Sommer from MPI (Max Planck Inst., Cologne) and by Prof. Angelo Spena (University of Verona). Part two: Genetic engineering of viral resistance. A second part of this program, already started at the ISPORT, is to build transgenic plants resistant to virus disease. This will be attempted by introducing chimerical genes whose coding region(s) are derived from mobility protein of the tomato leafroll virus necessary for virus transmission. The expression of chimeric genes in transgenic plants is designed to interfere with the phloematic movement of the virus.
The constructs have been built and provided by Prof. Wolfgang Rohde (MPI, Cologne).
Within the period of return fellowship the candidate will characterise at the molecular level transgenic plants in order to identify expressing and not-expressing transgenotes. Afterwards, the candidate will participate in to the evaluation of the resistance to virus infection.