Expression of Bacillus thuringiensis insecticidal protein gene in transgenic oil palm
Oil palm, like all other crops, is susceptible to attack from several insect pests causing significant reduction in productivity. In the past, cry genes from Bacillus thuringiensis have been reported to be effective in conferring resistance towards insect pests in crops such as corn and rice. One of the advantages of these toxin proteins is their specificity towards certain harmful insects. A rapid and efficient method was developed for the transformation and evaluation of CryIA(b) expression in oil palm. A recombinant vector was introduced into immature embryos (IEs) of oil palm via the biolistic method. More than 700 putative transformed IEs from independent transformation events were generated. Transient transformation efficiency of 81-100 % was achieved. We found that pre-treatment of target tissues with phytohormones is essential for increasing the transformation efficiency. This finding could enable higher transformation rate in oil palm that was previously difficult to transform. PCR analysis further confirmed the presence of the CryIA(b) in the transformed tissues. Expression of CryIA(b) from PCR-positive samples was further confirmed using a rapid gene expression detection system. This novel and rapid detection system could serve as a good opportunity to analyze the impact of transgenes upon transfer to the new environment, especially for crops with long generation cycle, such as oil palm.