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PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e25802. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025802. Epub 2011 Oct 3.

Agrobacterium rhizogenes-mediated transformation of the parasitic plant Phtheirospermum japonicum.

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Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.



Plants within the Orobanchaceae are an agriculturally important group of parasites that attack economically important crops to obtain water and nutrients from their hosts. Despite their agricultural importance, molecular mechanisms of the parasitism are poorly understood.


We developed transient and stable transformation systems for Phtheirospermum japonicum, a facultative parasitic plant in the Orobanchaceae. The transformation protocol was established by a combination of sonication and acetosyringone treatments using the hairy-root-inducing bacterium, Agrobacterium rhizogenes and young seedlings. Transgenic hairy roots of P. japonicum were obtained from cotyledons 2 to 3 weeks after A. rhizogenes inoculation. The presence and the expression of transgenes in P. japonicum were verified by genomic PCR, Southern blot and RT-PCR methods. Transgenic roots derived from A. rhizogenes-mediated transformation were able to develop haustoria on rice and maize roots. Transgenic roots also formed apparently competent haustoria in response to 2,6-dimethoxy-1,4-benzoquinone (DMBQ), a haustorium-inducing chemical. Using this system, we introduced a reporter gene with a Cyclin B1 promoter into P. japonicum, and visualized cell division during haustorium formation.


We provide an easy and efficient method for hairy-root transformation of P. japonicum. Transgenic marker analysis revealed that cell divisions during haustorium development occur 24 h after DMBQ treatment. The protocols described here will allow functional analysis of genes involved in plant parasitism.

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