Biotech Updates

Scientists Identify Gene that May Ease Genetic Modification in Plants

March 12, 2014

A recent discovery by a research team from Purdue University could lead to easier genetic modification of plants considered recalcitrant to standard methods, including varieties of economically important crops.  The team identified a gene that influences susceptibility to infection by Agrobacterium tumefaciens, a bacterium used to insert genes into plants to produce desired traits such as resistance to pests, diseases or harsh environmental conditions, or to improve the nutrition or shelf life of a crop.

Led by Stanton Gelvin, Purdue's Edwin Umbarger Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences, the team conducted genetic screens of Arabidopsis mutants hyper-susceptible to Agrobacterium infection to identify genes responsible for susceptibility. They discovered that a mutation in the gene MTF1 affected susceptibility to infection and genetic transformation. Plants in which MTF1 is suppressed were more susceptible to transformation. Gelvin said that the team is working on developing technology to translate their findings into a tool that can reduce the expression of MTF1 and genetically transform a plant in one step.

For more information about this research, read the news release available at