COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. (Fri., Dec. 1, 2006) -- Decaffeinated coffee plants, pest-resistant cotton, and Vitamin A-producing rice varieties have all been developed by introducing genes into plants. Scientists also create modified plants to identify and characterize the functions of specific genes. The current issue of Cold Spring Harbor Protocolsreleased online today (www.cshprotocols.org)includes a set of techniques for the creation of transgenic plants.
One of the protocols, freely available at http://www.cshprotocols.org/cgi/content/full/2006/30/pdb.prot4668, describes the use of a bacterium, Agrobacterium, to create transgenic Arabidopsis plants. Arabidopsis is used in many studies due to its short reproductive cycle, ease of cultivation, and close relatedness to economically important species such as broccoli and cauliflower. Agrobacterium contains a small chromosomecalled the Ti plasmidinto which scientists can insert a gene of interest. This transgene is transferred to Arabidopsis through natural infection with Agrobacterium.
The highlighted article from CSH Protocols describes three techniques that encourage Agrobacterium to infect Arabidopsis plants: dipping an Arabidopsis flower directly into a solution containing Agrobacterium, mechanically forcing the Agrobacterium into the plant cells by applying vacuum, and simply spraying an Agrobacterium suspension onto the plants.