Transgenic Plants as Tools to Study the Molecular Organization of Plant Genes

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Science  04 Sep 1987:
Vol. 237, Issue 4819, pp. 1176-1183
DOI: 10.1126/science.237.4819.1176


Transgenic plants are generated in nature by Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a pathogen that produces disease through the transfer of some of its own DNA into susceptible plants. The genes are carried on a plasmid. Much has been learned about how the plasmid is transferred, how the plasmid-borne genes are organized, regulated, and expressed, and how the bacteria's pathogenic effects are produced. The A. tumefaciens plasmid has been manipulated for use as a general vector for the transfer of specific segments of foreign DNA of interest (from plants and other sources) into plants; the activities of various genes and their regulation by enhancer and silencer sequences have been assessed. Future uses of the vector (or others like it that have different host ranges) by the agriculture industry are expected to aid in moving into vulnerable plants specific genes that will protect them from such killers as nonselective herbicides, insects, and viruses.