Gene Transfer in Cereals

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Science  05 Jun 1987:
Vol. 236, Issue 4806, pp. 1259-1262
DOI: 10.1126/science.236.4806.1259


Until recently, gene transfer in plants was achieved only by sexual hybridization. Now, in addition, plant genetic manipulation, with the use of both recombinant DNA and protoplast fusion technology, is being applied to an increasing range of plants. The soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, with its associated plasmid, is used as a vector for introducing DNA into the genomes of dicotyledonous plants, but it has not proved suitable for cereals. Instead, the direct uptake of plasmid DNA into cereal protoplasts is being used for the transformation of cells in rice, wheat, and maize. Transformation efficiencies, in some cases, are becoming comparable to those obtained in dicotyledons with Agrobacterium. In rice it is now possible to regenerate efficiently whole plants from protoplasts, and this capability may soon be extended to the other cereals. By means of direct interaction of cereal protoplasts with plasmids, coupled with improved procedures for the regeneration of plants from their protoplasts, gene transfer in the cereals is becoming established at the frontiers of recombinant DNA technology.