Novel Insect Resistance Using Protease Inhibitor Genes

  • Angharad M. R. Gatehouse
  • Donald Boulter
  • Vaughan A. Hilder
Part of the Plant Gene Research book series (GENE)


Crop plants have been primarily selected for high yields, nutritional value, including low mammalian toxicity and, where necessary, adaptation to certain environmental conditions. This “selection pressure” over the centuries has severely disrupted the co-evolutionary relationships between plants and insects with the consequence that very few cultivated species have retained the degree of resistance exhibited by their wild relatives (Feeny, 1976). For example, since the complex phenolic, gossypol, is toxic to mammals and so interferes with the utilisation of cotton seed meal as an animal feed, lines devoid of this compound have been selected for. This has resulted in the new improved lines being extremely susceptible to attack by the cotton budworm Heliothis virescens (Berardi and Goldblatt, 1980) towards which gossypol is toxic. An additional problem is encountered when crop plants are introduced into foreign geographical regions and so are exposed to an array of pests and diseases to which they have not had the opportunity to evolve any defence mechanisms. A classic example is illustrated by potato damage. On its introduction from Bolivia into the South Western United States the crop became exposed to the Colorado beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) towards which it had no inherent resistance; this insect pest has subsequently become established as the most serious insect pest of potato worldwide. In 1988 the insecticide expenditure for protection of potato was estimated to be US$ 198 million (Table 1).


Trypsin Inhibitor Transgenic Tobacco Plant Insect Resistance Vigna Unguiculata Protease Inhibitor Gene 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angharad M. R. Gatehouse
    • 1
  • Donald Boulter
    • 1
  • Vaughan A. Hilder
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of DurhamDurhamUK

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