The goal of this research was to improve scab resistance of apple by transformation with genes encoding chitinolytic enzymes from the bio-control organism Trichoderma harzianum. The endochitinase gene, as cDNA and genomic clones, was transferred into apple cv. Marshall McIntosh by Agrobacterium-transformation. A total of 15 lines were identified as transgenic by NPTII enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and polymerase chain reaction and confirmed by Southern analysis. Substantial differences in endochitinase activity were detected among different lines by enzymatic assay and western analysis. Eight lines propagated as grafted and own-rooted plants were inoculated with Venturia inaequalis. Six of these transgenic lines expressing endochitinase were more resistant than nontransformed cv. Marshall McIntosh. Disease severity compared with cv. Marshall McIntosh was reduced by 0 to 99.7% (number of lesions), 0 to 90% (percentage of leaf area infected), and 1 to 56% (conidia recovered) in the transgenic lines tested. Endochitinase also had negative effects on the growth of both inoculated and uninoculated plants. There was a significant negative correlation between the level of endochitinase production and both the amount of disease and plant growth.
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