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Trends Plant Sci. 2003 Aug;8(8):380-6.

Agrobacterium tumefaciens as an agent of disease.

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Department of Cell and Organism Biology, Lund University, Sölvegatan 35, Lund, SE-22362, Sweden.


Twenty-six years ago it was found that the common soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens is capable of extraordinary feats of interkingdom genetic transfer. Since this discovery, A. tumefaciens has served as a model system for the study of type IV bacterial secretory systems, horizontal gene transfer and bacterial-plant signal exchange. It has also been modified for controlled genetic transformation of plants, a core technology of plant molecular biology. These areas have often overshadowed its role as a serious, widespread phytopathogen - the primary driver of the first 80 years of Agrobacterium research. Now, the diverse areas of A. tumefaciens research are again converging because new discoveries in transformation biology and the use of A. tumefaciens vectors are allowing the development of novel, effective biotechnology-based strategies for the control of crown gall disease.

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