Fundamental discoveries and simple recombination between circular plasmid DNAs led to widespread use of Agrobacteriumtumefaciens as a generalized vector for plant genetic engineering
Published: 9 October 2013
Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA
Fundamental research aimed to determine the limits of the Agrobacterium transfer DNA (T-DNA) element that stably inserted into plant nuclear DNA to cause crown gall tumor formation. The T-DNA borders were discovered to be exceedingly precise, revealing that T-DNA insertion into the plant genome was reproducible and exact. Deletion of the internal regions of the T-DNA, to remove the tumor forming genes, while retaining the T-DNA borders, resulted again in efficient DNA transfer to plant cells, but now such cells were capable of completely normal growth and differentiation. Thus, the internal region of the T-DNA was not needed for DNA transfer, and one could envisage insertion of any DNA of interest in between the T-DNA borders. Thus began plant genetic engineering.