The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 57: 449 - 452 (2013)

Vol 57, Issue 6-7-8

Special Issue: Plant Transgenesis

Fundamental discoveries and simple recombination between circular plasmid DNAs led to widespread use of Agrobacterium tumefaciens as a generalized vector for plant genetic engineering

Published: 9 October 2013

Patricia Zambryski*

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.


plant transformation, genetic engineering, tumor forming gene, crown gall, T-DNA border

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