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Pollen magnetofection for genetic modification with magnetic nanoparticles as gene carriers

Matters Arising to this article was published on 02 November 2020


Genetic modification plays a vital role in breeding new crops with excellent traits. Almost all the current genetic modification methods require regeneration from tissue culture, involving complicated, long and laborious processes. In particular, many crop species such as cotton are difficult to regenerate. Here, we report a novel transformation platform technology, pollen magnetofection, to directly produce transgenic seeds without regeneration. In this system, exogenous DNA loaded with magnetic nanoparticles was delivered into pollen in the presence of a magnetic field. Through pollination with magnetofected pollen, transgenic plants were successfully generated from transformed seeds. Exogenous DNA was successfully integrated into the genome, effectively expressed and stably inherited in the offspring. Our system is culture-free and genotype independent. In addition, it is simple, fast and capable of multi-gene transformation. We envision that pollen magnetofection can transform almost all crops, greatly facilitating breeding processes of new varieties of transgenic crops.

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Fig. 1: Processes and principles of pollen magnetofection.
Fig. 2: Characterizations of MNP–DNA complexes showed that MNPs had effectively been loaded with DNA.
Fig. 3: Pollen viability and tracking of MNPs within the pollen indicated that MNP–DNA complexes were successfully internalized in pollen with high viability.
Fig. 4: Genetic analyses of T1 generation confirmed that BTΔα-CPTI gene was integrated in the genome, transcribed and expressed in the plants, resulting in insect resistance in transgenic cotton.
Fig. 5: Inheritance stability analyses of T1 to T3 generations suggested that the BTΔα-CPTI gene is stably inherited and expressed in the offspring of transgenic cotton.


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This research was supported by the Major National Scientific Research Program of China (2014CB932200), the Genetically Modified Organisms Breeding Major Projects of China (No. 2009ZX08010-006B), the Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Program (CAASXTCX2016004), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31301373), the Beijing Municipal Natural Science Foundation (6164045) and the Genetically Modified Organisms Breeding Major Projects of China (No. 2011ZX08005-004).

We thank Q. Wu and C. X. Wang of the Institute of Vegetables and Flowers, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences for pepper pollen, pumpkin pollen and cocozelle pollen.

Author information




H.C., S.G., R.Z. and D.L. conceived the experiment. X.Z. performed pollen transformation system construction and tracking of MNP–DNA complexes in pollen; Z.M. performed vector construction and promoter analysis; X.Z., Z.M., Y.W.,W.C. and M.Y. performed pollen transformation and transgenic plant analysis; Z.M., X.Z., W.C., C.S. and J.C. performed the field trial; X.Z., Y.W., B.C. and Z.Z. analysed the data; H.C., D.L., X.Z. and Y.W. wrote the paper; J.Q.C. performed the statistical analyses.

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Correspondence to Rui Zhang or Haixin Cui.

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Zhao, X., Meng, Z., Wang, Y. et al. Pollen magnetofection for genetic modification with magnetic nanoparticles as gene carriers. Nature Plants 3, 956–964 (2017).

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