|dc.description.abstract||Potato production in tropical and subtropical countries suffers from damage caused by the potato tuber moth (PTM), Phthorimiaea operculella. Development of a germline transformation system and the identification of genes that are differentially expressed within the PTM midgut are the main goals of this research. We tested three components that are critical to genetic transformation systems for insects; promoter activity, marker gene expression, and transposable element function. We compared the transcriptional activities of five different promoters, hsp70, hsp82, actin5C, polyubiquitin and ie1, within PTM embryos. The ie1 promoter flanked with the enhancer element, hr5, showed a very high level of transcriptional activity compared with the other promoters. The expression of the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) was detected under UV-illumination within the embryonic soma demonstrating that it can be used as an effective marker gene for PTM. The transpositional activities of the Hermes, mariner and piggyBac transposable elements were tested in interplasmid transposition assays. The piggyBac element was shown mobile within the embryonic soma with a transposition frequency of 4.2 X 10-5 transposition/donor plasmid. The piggyBac mobility has been enhanced by incorporating a transactivator plasmid expressing the IE1 protein from the bacoluvirus Autographa californica nuclear polyhedrosis virus. Seven transformation experiments were performed. The experiments failed to produce a transgenic PTM.
The insect midgut is a rich region of molecular targets involved in food processing that could be potentially used to design a new control strategy. The suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) method was used to identify differentially expressed genes from the PTM midgut. From this subtracted library, 2984 clones were collected and screened. Of these clones, 637 clones are candidate differentially expressed genes within the PTM midgut. Sixty-nine cDNA clones were randomly selected for DNA sequencing. Tweleve clones were selected for further analysis using RT-PCR and Northern blot techniques. Eleven of the clones resulted in positive results for midgut expression. Five clones, showing homology with insect immune peptides, were used in the challenge experiment which revealed that these cDNAs are constitutively expressed in the midgut, as well as being up-regulated due to bacterial or viral challenge.||