Key message: Marker-free transgenic eggplants, exhibiting enhanced resistance to Alternaria solani , can be generated on plant growth regulators (PGRs)- and antibiotic-free MS medium employing the multi-auto-transformation (MAT) vector, pMAT21 - wasabi defensin , wherein isopentenyl transferase ( ipt ) gene is used as a positive selection marker.
Abstract: Use of the selection marker genes conferring antibiotic or herbicide resistance in transgenic plants has been considered a serious problem for environment and the public. Multi-auto-transformation (MAT) vector system has been one of the tools to excise the selection marker gene and produce marker-free transgenic plants. Ipt gene was used as a selection marker gene. Wasabi defensin gene, isolated from Wasabia japonica (a Japanese horseradish which has been a potential source of antimicrobial proteins), was used as a gene of interest. Wasabi defensin gene was cloned from the binary vector, pEKH-WD, to an ipt-type MAT vector, pMAT21, by gateway cloning technology and transferred to Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain EHA105. Infected cotyledon explants of eggplant were cultured on PGRs- and antibiotic-free MS medium. Extreme shooty phenotype/ipt shoots were produced by the explants infected with the pMAT21-wasabi defensin (WD). The same PGRs- and antibiotic-free MS medium was used in subcultures of the ipt shoots. Subsequently, morphologically normal shoots emerged from the Ipt shoots. Molecular analyses of genomic DNA from transgenic plants confirmed the integration of the WD gene and excision of the selection marker (ipt gene). Expression of the WD gene was confirmed by RT-PCR and Northern blot analyses. In vitro whole plant and detached leaf assay of the marker-free transgenic plants exhibited enhanced resistance against Alternaria solani.