Peptide Biocides for Engineering Bacterial Blight Tolerance and Susceptibility in Cut-flower Anthurium

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Two cultivars of Anthurium andraeanum Hort. hybrids, `Paradise Pink' and `Tropic Flame', were transformed by Agrobacterium to contain gene sequences for Shiva-1, a cecropin-based lytic peptide. The antibacterial gene was driven by a 35-35S cauliflower mosaic viral (35-35S CaMV) promoter and the construct included the secretory signal sequence for pathogenesis-related protein 1b (PR1b). Blight tolerance of regenerated plants was tested by inoculation with a virulent strain of Xanthomonas axonopodis (formerly campestris) pv. dieffenbachiae (Xad) that is bioluminescent to allow detection of symptomless infections in Shiva-1 transformants. Primary regenerants for two Shiva-1 transgenic lines of `Paradise Pink' displayed significantly enhanced tolerance to bacterial blight over blight susceptible `Rudolph' and even the blight tolerant `Kalapana'. Two Shiva-1 transgenic lines of `Tropic Flame' showed no improved resistance when compared to the control at the mean percent leaf infection level. One Shiva-1 transgenic line of `Tropic Flame' was unexpectedly more susceptible to blight than the nontransgenic control. Low expression of Shiva-1 observed in this line is hypothesized to be the cause of its increased susceptibility to Xad.