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Trends Genet. 2006 Jan;22(1):29-37. Epub 2005 Nov 9.

A case of promiscuity: Agrobacterium's endless hunt for new partners.

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Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5215, USA.


Agrobacterium tumefaciens is a phytopathogenic bacterium that induces the 'crown gall' disease in plants by transfer and integration of a segment of its tumor-inducing (Ti) plasmid DNA into the genome of numerous plant species that represent most of the higher plant families. Recently, it has been shown that, under laboratory conditions, the host range of Agrobacterium can be extended to non-plant eukaryotic organisms. These include yeast, filamentous fungi, cultivated mushrooms and human cultured cells. In this article, we present Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of non-plant organisms as a source of new protocols for genetic transformation, as a unique tool for genomic studies (insertional mutagenesis or targeted DNA integration) and as a useful model system to study bacterium-host cell interactions. Moreover, better knowledge of the DNA-transfer mechanisms from bacteria to eukaryotic organisms can also help in understanding horizontal gene transfer--a driving force throughout biological evolution.

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