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An adapter ligation-mediated PCR method for high-throughput mapping of T-DNA inserts in the Arabidopsis genome

This article has been updated


Agrobacterium transfer DNA (T-DNA) is an effective plant mutagen that has been used to create sequence-indexed T-DNA insertion lines in Arabidopsis thaliana as a tool to study gene function. Creating T-DNA insertion lines requires a dependable method for locating the site of insertion in the genome. In this protocol, we describe an adapter ligation-mediated PCR method that we have used to screen a mutant library and identify over 150,000 T-DNA insertional mutants; the method can also be applied to map individual mutants. The procedure consists of three steps: a restriction enzyme-mediated ligation of an adapter to the genomic DNA; a PCR amplification of the T-DNA/genomic DNA junction with primers specific to the adapter and T-DNA; and sequencing of the T-DNA/genomic junction to enable mapping to the reference genome. In most cases, the sequenced genomic region extends to the T-DNA border, enabling the exact location of the insert to be identified. The entire process takes 2 weeks to complete.

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Figure 1: Locating the T-DNA junction with adapter ligation-mediated PCR.
Figure 2: Photograph of seed spoon.

Change history

  • 13 December 2007

    In the version of this article initially published, the sequences for the three short strands listed in Table 1 (p. 2912) were incomplete. Each of the three should have started with “5'-Phosphate-” and ended with “-amino C7-3′ ”. The entry in the Comments section for each of the three sequences should have read: “5′ phosphorylated and 3′ C7 amino modification. HPLC purified". In the table footnote, “Blue text” and “Red text” should have been “Dotted underscore” and “Solid underscore” and the corresponding sequence segments in the table underscored appropriately. On the same page, a sentence was omitted from the third paragraph in the section “Adapter and primer design.” The third sentence should have been: "The short adapter has a 3′ C7 amino modification to prevent polymerase extension of the short adapter, as this would generate the latent primer-binding sites on all ligated molecules and not just those containing the T-DNA primer-binding site." Under “Reagents,” the entry for oligonucleotides should have included the name of the supplier, Operon. These errors have been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.

  • 25 March 2010

    In the version of this article initially published, the sequence shown in the top row (“Long strand of adapter 1”) of Table 1 was missing an adenosine at position 16. Instead of: GTAATACGACTCACTTAGGGCACGCGTGGTCGACGGCCCGGGCTGC, the sequence should have appeared as: GTAATACGACTCACTATAGGGCACGCGTGGTCGACGGCCCGGGCTGC. This error has been corrected in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.


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This work was funded by the National Science Foundation (award numbers 0115103 and 0420126). We thank Cesar Barragan, Mary Galli, Dr Ryan Lister and Dr Brian Gregory for critical reading of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Joseph R Ecker.

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O'Malley, R., Alonso, J., Kim, C. et al. An adapter ligation-mediated PCR method for high-throughput mapping of T-DNA inserts in the Arabidopsis genome. Nat Protoc 2, 2910–2917 (2007).

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