prof. dr. Van Damme Els
The discovery of new potential crop protection applications by using the expression of the lectin gene against pests in transgenic plants.
In 1987 we reported the purification of a lectin from snowdrop bulbs (referred to as Galanthus nivalis agglutinin or GNA) with an exclusive specificity towards mannose. Since then numerous so-called GNA-related lectins have been isolated and characterized from related plant species. Over the years lectins have received a lot of attention because of their biological properties. GNA proved to be a very interesting protein because of its insecticidal activity not only against chewing insects but especially against sap sucking insects. Interestingly, particular lectins also show antiviral or antifungal or nematicidal activities. Hence, lectins can be considered as plant defence proteins which offers interesting perspectives to use lectins for applications in crop protection.
Lectins with activity against insects, viruses, fungi or nematodes offer interesting perspectives for applications in crop protection, through (over)expression of the lectin gene in transgenic plants.