A Namuddu, A Kiggundu, SB Mukasa, K Kurnet, E Karamura, W Tushemereirwe

Abstract

Conventional banana breeding for pest and disease resistance is a very difficult and slow process due to the limited sources of resistance, sterility of cultivated banana varieties, high polyploidy levels, long cropping cycle and the lack of rapid screening methods. Molecular breeding using the transgenic approach with candidate genes such as cystatins offers an alternative method to banana improvement. Cystatin proteins inhibit the activity of cysteine proteases responsible for the breakdown of dietary proteins in the gut of many pests including nematodes resulting in protein deficiency. In this study, the papaya cystatin gene was introduced into the banana genome. Embryogenic cell suspension (ECS) cultures of the banana cultivar Sukali Ndiizi (ABB) were used as explants material for the successful transformation of banana. The Carica papaya cystatin gene (CpCYS-Mut89) previously modified to improve its inhibitory potential against banana pests was introduced into this cultivar using Agrobacterium tumefaciens, strain LBA4404 and the gus reporter gene was used to observe successful transformation process. We report the successful protocol for routine transformation of this cultivar, which was completed in six months with plant regeneration observed at a frequency of 23%. An additional four months was required to multiply the regenerant lines in order to have at least 20 plants per line for downstream challenging studies. Putatively transgenic plants were analyzed by PCR using hpt and CpCYS-Mut89 specific primers to confirm the presence of transgenes. Out of 28 selected lines, 27 were positive for both hpt and CpCYS-Mut89 transgenes giving 96.4% transformation efficiency. Five lines were then selected on the basis of putative PCR positives and a Southern blot analysis gave hybridization signals with 1 to 4 copy number integration patterns characteristic of Agrobacterium mediated transformation. These results confirm stable gene integration in East African banana cultivar cv. Sukali Ndiizi (genome group ABB) through an efficient Agrobacterium-mediated transformation protocol described for routine use in future improvement of this crop with genes of economic importance.
Keywords: Cystatins, banana, Agrobacterium mediated transformation, southern blot
African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 12(15), pp. 1811-1819

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