Agrobacterium is widely considered to be the only bacterial genus capable of transferring genes to plants. When suitably modified, Agrobacterium has become the most effective vector for gene transfer in plant biotechnology1. However, the complexity of the patent landscape2 has created both real and perceived obstacles to the effective use of this technology for agricultural improvements by many public and private organizations worldwide. Here we show that several species of bacteria outside the Agrobacterium genus can be modified to mediate gene transfer to a number of diverse plants. These plant-associated symbiotic bacteria were made competent for gene transfer by acquisition of both a disarmed Ti plasmid and a suitable binary vector. This alternative to Agrobacterium-mediated technology for crop improvement, in addition to affording a versatile ‘open source’ platform for plant biotechnology, may lead to new uses of natural bacteria–plant interactions to achieve plant transformation.
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This work was carried out within the Molecular Technologies Group of CAMBIA. We thank M. Irwin, J. Ward and H. Kilborn for their assistance with the plant transformation work. We thank P. Oger for sharing unpublished sequences of the pTiBo542 Ti plasmid, R. Wagner for comparisons of insertion sites with unpublished tobacco sequences, and M. Connett-Porceddu, P. Wenz and S. Hughes for discussions on the manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, Horticulture Australia and Rural Industries R&D Corporation (RIRDC).
The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.
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Broothaerts, W., Mitchell, H., Weir, B. et al. Gene transfer to plants by diverse species of bacteria. Nature 433, 629–633 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature03309
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