Department of Agronomy and Interdepartmental Genetics Graduate Major Program, Iowa State University, Ames 50011-1010, U.S.A.
Plants do not produce antibodies. However, plants can correctly assemble functional antibody molecules encoded by mammalian antibody genes. Many plant diseases are caused by pathogen toxins. One such disease is the soybean sudden death syndrome (SDS). SDS is a serious disease caused by the fungal pathogen Fusarium virguliforme. The pathogen, however, has never been isolated from diseased foliar tissues. Thus, one or more toxins produced by the pathogen have been considered to cause foliar SDS. One of these possible toxins, FvTox1, was recently identified. We investigated whether expression of anti-FvTox1 single-chain variable-fragment (scFv) antibody in transgenic soybean can confer resistance to foliar SDS. We have created two scFv antibody genes, Anti-FvTox1-1 and Anti-FvTox1-2, encoding anti-FvTox1 scFv antibodies from RNAs of a hybridoma cell line that expresses mouse monoclonal anti-FvTox1 7E8 antibody. Both anti-FvTox1 scFv antibodies interacted with an antigenic site of FvTox1 that binds to mouse monoclonal anti-FvTox1 7E8 antibody. Binding of FvTox1 by the anti-FvTox1 scFv antibodies, expressed in either Escherichia coli or transgenic soybean roots, was initially verified on nitrocellulose membranes. Expression of anti-FvTox1-1 in stable transgenic soybean plants resulted in enhanced foliar SDS resistance compared with that in nontransgenic control plants. Our results suggest that i) FvTox1 is an important pathogenicity factor for foliar SDS development and ii) expression of scFv antibodies against pathogen toxins could be a suitable biotechnology approach for protecting crop plants from toxin-induced diseases.