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Transgenic Res. 2012 Jun;21(3):567-78. doi: 10.1007/s11248-011-9553-3. Epub 2011 Sep 13.

Production of Phytophthora infestans-resistant potato (Solanum tuberosum) utilising Ensifer adhaerens OV14.

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Department of Crop Science, Teagasc Crops Research Centre, Oak Park, Carlow, Ireland.


Based on the use of Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation commodity crop improvement through genetic engineering is the fastest adopted crop technology in the world (James 2010). However, the complexity of the Agrobacterium patent landscape remains a challenge for non-patent holders who wish to generate novel varieties for a commercial purpose. The potential of non-Agrobacterium strains (Transbacter(™)) to modify a plant genome has previously been described. However, they are unlikely to be widely used without significant adjustments in transformation protocols in order to improve their gene transfer efficiencies. In this study we set out to identify alternative bacteria species that could (a) utilize vir genes for genetic transformation and (b) substitute for A. tumefaciens in existing transformation protocols, without a prerequisite for protocol modifications. To this end we isolated a collection (n=751) of plant-associated bacteria from the rhizosphere of commercially grown crops. Based on various screens, including plant transformation with the open-source vector pCAMBIA5105, we identified a strain of the bacterium Ensifer adhaerens with the capacity to transform both Arabidopsis thaliana (0.12%) and potato (mean transformation frequency 35.1%). Thereafter, Ensifer adhaerens was used to generate blight- (causative organism Phytophthora infestans) resistant potato using the Solanum bulbocastanum 'resistance to blight' (RB) gene. Resistant genotypes were confirmed by associated molecular analysis and resistant phenotypes demonstrated by the development of hypersensitive lesions on inoculated leaf tissue post-pathogen inoculation. These data confirm the potential of Ensifer-mediated transformation (EMT) as a novel platform for the high frequency generation of transgenic potato.

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