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  • Author or Editor: Yi Zou x
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Genetic engineering has the potential to improve disease resistance in taro [Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott]. To develop a method to produce highly regenerable calluses of taro, more than 40 combinations of Murashige and Skoog (MS) media at full- or half-strength with varying concentrations of auxin [α-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) or 2, 4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2, 4-D)], cytokinin [benzyladenine (BA) or kinetin], and taro extract were tested for callus initiation and plant regeneration. The best combination, MS medium with 2 mg·L−1 BA and 1 mg·L−1 NAA (M5 medium), was used to produce regenerable calluses from taro cv. Bun Long initiated from shoot tip explants. After 8 weeks of growth, multiple shoots from these calluses could be induced on MS medium with 4 mg·L−1 BA (M15 medium). The rice chitinase gene (ricchi11) along with the neomycin phosphotransferase (npt II) selectable marker and β-glucuronidase (gus) genes were introduced into these taro calluses through particle bombardment. Transformed calluses were selected on M5 medium containing 50 mg·L−1 geneticin (G418). Histochemical assays for beta-glucuronidase (GUS), polymerase chain reaction (PCR), reverse transcription–PCR, and Southern blot analyses confirmed the presence, integration, and expression of the rice chitinase gene in one transgenic line (efficiency less than 0.1%). Growth and morphology of the transgenic plants appeared normal and similar to non-transformed controls. In pathogenicity tests, the transgenic line exhibited improved resistance to the fungal pathogen, Sclerotium rolfsii, but not to the oomycete pathogen, Phytophthora colocasiae.

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