Plant protease inhibitors in control of phytophagous insects
Plant proteinase inhibitors (PIs) have been well established to play a potent defensive role against predators and pathogens. Although diverse endogenous functions for these proteins has been proposed, ranging from regulators of endogenous proteinases to act as storage proteins, evidence for many of these roles is partial, or confined to isolated examples. On the other hand, many PIs have been shown to act as defensive compounds against pests by direct assay or by expression in transgenic crop plants, and a body of evidence for their role in plant defense has been accumulated consistently. The role and mechanism of action for most of these inhibitors are being studied in detail and their respective genes isolated. These genes have been used for the construction of transgenic crop plants to be incorporated in integrated pest management programmes. This article describes the classes of protease inhibitors, their regulation and genes used to construct transgenic plants against phytophagous insects.