Interactions and DNA transfer between Agrobacterium tumefaciens, the Ti-plasmid and the plant host

Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Containing Papers of a Biological Character
J SchellR Villarroel


Agrobacterium tumefaciens is a gram-negative bacterium with the unique capacity to induce neoplasmic transformations in dicotyledonous plants. Recently, both the mechanism and the biological significance of this transformation have been elucidated. Agrobacterium tumefaciens strains contain a large extrachromosomal DNA plasmid (the Ti-plasmid). This Ti-plasmid is responsible for the oncogenic properties of Agrobacterium strains. A particular segment of the Ti-plasmid, containing information determining the tumorous growth pattern and the synthesis of so-called 'opines', e.g. octopine (N-alpha-(D-1-carboxyethyl)-L-arginine) and nopaline (N-alpha-(1,3-dicarboxypropyl)-L-argine), is transferred and stably maintained and expressed in the transformed plant cells. This phenomenon can be understood as a 'genetic colonization' of the plant cells by bacterial plasmid DNA so that the transformed plant cells will produce and secrete into the medium amino acid derivatives (the opines) that Ti-plasmid carrying agrobacteria can selectively use as carbon and nitrogen sources.


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