A high-throughput system for the evaluation of anti-herbivory genes in plant is proposed, in which genes are transiently expressed in a small area of leaf via Agrobacterium-infiltration, and the results can be obtained within 1 week. Transient expression of the cry1Ab gene, a well-known Bt toxin gene, in the leaves of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum cv. Samsun NN) exhibited a lethal effect on both cotton cutworm (Spodoptera litura) and cabbage armyworm (Mamestra brassicae) larvae. In Arabidopsis leaves, this gene also provided potent inhibition of feeding of diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) larvae. The expression of another anti-herbivory gene, MLX56, in tobacco and tomato (Solanum lycopersium cv. Micro- Tom) leaves resulted in enhanced mortality of M. brassicae and S. litura larvae. Significantly higher growth inhibition of S. litura larvae and feeding inhibition of P. xylostella larvae were also observed in tobacco and Arabidopsis leaves expressing the MLX56 gene. All results could be obtained within 5-7 days, indicating that this Agrobacterium-mediated transient gene expression system enables a high throughput evaluation of anti-herbivory genes.
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