Author(s): Carlini CR, GrossideS MF
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Abstract To meet the demands for food of the expanding world population, there is need of new ways for protecting plant crops against predators and pathogens while avoiding the use of environmentally aggressive chemicals. A milestone in this field was the introduction into crop plants of genes expressing Bacillus thuringiensis entomotoxic proteins. In spite of the success of this new technology, however, there are difficulties for acceptance of these 'anti-natural' products by the consumers and some concerns about its biosafety in mammals. An alternative could be exploring the plant's own defense mechanisms, by manipulating the expression of their endogenous defense proteins, or introducing an insect control gene derived from another plant. This review deals with the biochemical features and mechanisms of actions of plant proteins supposedly involved in defense mechanisms against insects, including lectins, ribosome-inactivating proteins, enzymes inhibitors, arcelins, chitinases, ureases, and modified storage proteins. The potentialities of genetic engineering of plants with increased resistance to insect predation relying on the repertoire of genes found in plants are also discussed. Several different genes encoding plant entomotoxic proteins have been introduced into crop genomes and many of these insect resistant plants are now being tested in field conditions or awaiting commercialization. Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.
This article was published in Toxicon
and referenced in Journal of Agricultural Science and Food Research