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Crop Biotech Update

Improved Procedure Accelerates Tomato Engineering

September 7, 2016

Scientists at the Boyce Thompson Institute's (BTI) Van Eck lab, led by Professor Joyce Van Eck and former postdoctoral scientist Sarika Gupta have developed a better method for transforming a tomato by adding the plant hormone auxin to the medium that supports cell growth. By doing this, the plant's growth speeds up, ultimately accelerating the pace of research.

Researchers typically use the soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens in transformation. The transformed cells grow on plant regeneration medium, which contains nutrients and hormones that cause the tissue to develop into a tiny new plant. The plantlets are then transferred to root induction medium before being planted in soil. In the new method, the Van Eck lab adds auxin to the regeneration and rooting media, which reduces the length of the procedure from 17 weeks to just 11.

The Van Eck lab performs tomato transformations routinely, as a research method to understand how individual genes affect tomato growth and development. Their new protocol not only saves time, but uses fewer materials and saves money. "If you can speed up the plant development, which is what the auxin is doing, you can decrease the time it takes to get genetically engineered lines," said Van Eck.

For more details, read the news release at the BTI website.