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T-DNA–mediated transfer of Agrobacterium tumefaciens chromosomal DNA into plants


Besides the well-documented integration of DNA flanked by the transfer DNA borders, occasional insertion of fragments from the tumor-inducing plasmid into plant genomes has also been reported during Agrobacterium tumefaciens–mediated transformation. We demonstrate that large (up to 18 kb) gene-bearing fragments of Agrobacterium chromosomal DNA (AchrDNA) can be integrated into Arabidopsis thaliana genomic DNA during transformation. One in every 250 transgenic plants may carry AchrDNA fragments. This has implications for horizontal gene transfer and indicates a need for greater scrutiny of transgenic plants for undesired bacterial DNA.

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Figure 1: Determination of T-DNA insertion site structures within the A. thaliana genome using plasmid rescue.


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We thank the students Pino Cagna and Alexander Boes for initial inverse PCR experiments leading to the discovery of the Agrobacterium chromosomal DNA in the transgenic locus named PM (PaperMaker) in a WRKY40 promoter::GUS line generated by Hikaru Seki, Prisca Viehoever for technical assistance and Csaba Koncz and Steven Spiker for suggestions and critical reading of the manuscript. This work was supported in part by the Max-Planck Society, the EU-funded REGIA project and the BMBF-funded GABI-Kat project.

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Correspondence to Bekir Ülker or Bernd Weisshaar.

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Ülker, B., Li, Y., Rosso, M. et al. T-DNA–mediated transfer of Agrobacterium tumefaciens chromosomal DNA into plants. Nat Biotechnol 26, 1015–1017 (2008).

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