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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Agrobacterium tumefaciens: A Bacterium Primed for Synthetic Biology

  • Author(s): Thompson, Mitchell G
  • Moore, William M
  • Hummel, Niklas FC
  • Pearson, Allison N
  • Barnum, Collin R
  • Scheller, Henrik V
  • Shih, Patrick M
  • et al.

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Agrobacterium tumefaciens is an important tool in plant biotechnology due to its natural ability to transfer DNA into the genomes of host plants. Genetic manipulations of A. tumefaciens have yielded considerable advances in increasing transformational efficiency in a number of plant species and cultivars. Moreover, there is overwhelming evidence that modulating the expression of various mediators of A. tumefaciens virulence can lead to more successful plant transformation; thus, the application of synthetic biology to enable targeted engineering of the bacterium may enable new opportunities for advancing plant biotechnology. In this review, we highlight engineering targets in both A. tumefaciens and plant hosts that could be exploited more effectively through precision genetic control to generate high-quality transformation events in a wider range of host plants. We then further discuss the current state of A. tumefaciens and plant engineering with regard to plant transformation and describe how future work may incorporate a rigorous synthetic biology approach to tailor strains of A. tumefaciens used in plant transformation.

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