On the basis of an extensive screening of seeds from various plant species, we have isolated and characterized several different antimicrobial peptides. They were all typified by having a broad antifungal activity spectrum, a relatively low molecular weight (3-14 kDa), a high cysteine content and a high isoelectric point (pI > 10), With respect to their amino acid sequence, these peptides can be classified into six structural classes. Synergistic enhancement (up to 73-fold) of antimicrobial activity was demonstrated in some combinations of peptides belonging to different classes, cDNA clones corresponding to different antifungal peptides were isolated and used to transform tobacco plants. Extracts of these transgenic plants showed higher (up to 16-fold) antifungal activity than untransformed control plants. Such antimicrobial peptides may find applications in molecular breeding of plants with increased disease resistance.