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Plant Cell. Apr 1989; 1(4): 403–413.
PMCID: PMC159772

Alterations of Endogenous Cytokinins in Transgenic Plants Using a Chimeric Isopentenyl Transferase Gene.


Cytokinins, a class of phytohormones, appear to play an important role in the processes of plant development. We genetically engineered the Agrobacterium tumefaciens isopentenyl transferase gene, placing it under control of a heat-inducible promoter (maize hsp70). The chimeric hsp70 isopentenyl transferase gene was transferred to tobacco and Arabidopsis plants. Heat induction of transgenic plants caused the isopentenyl transferase mRNA to accumulate and increased the level of zeatin 52-fold, zeatin riboside 23-fold, and zeatin riboside 5[prime]-monophosphate twofold. At the control temperature zeatin riboside and zeatin riboside 5[prime]-monophosphate in transgenic plants accumulated to levels 3 and 7 times, respectively, over levels in wild-type plants. This uninduced cytokinin increase affected various aspects of development. In tobacco, these effects included release of axillary buds, reduced stem and leaf area, and an underdeveloped root system. In Arabidopsis, reduction of root growth was also found. However, neither tobacco nor Arabidopsis transgenic plants showed any differences relative to wild-type plants in time of flowering. Unexpectedly, heat induction of cytokinins in transgenic plants produced no changes beyond those seen in the uninduced state. The lack of effect from heat-induced increases could be a result of the transient increases in cytokinin levels, direct or indirect induction of negating factor(s), or lack of a corresponding level of competent cellular factors. Overall, the effects of the increased levels of endogenous cytokinins in non-heat-shocked transgenic plants seemed to be confined to aspects of growth rather than differentiation. Since no alterations in the programmed differentiation pattern were found with increased cytokinin levels, this process may be controlled by components other than absolute cytokinin levels.

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Selected References

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