Decaffeinated coffee plants, pest-resistant cotton, and Vitamin A-producing rice varieties have all been developed by introducing genes into plants. Scientists also create modified plants to identify and characterize the functions of specific genes. The current issue of Cold Spring Harbor Protocols includes a set of techniques for the creation of transgenic plants.
One of the protocols describes the use of a bacterium, Agrobacterium, to create transgenic Arabidopsis plants. Arabidopsis is used in many studies due to its short reproductive cycle, ease of cultivation, and close relatedness to economically important species such as broccoli and cauliflower. Agrobacterium contains a small chromosome--called the Ti plasmid--into which scientists can insert a gene of interest. This 'transgene' is transferred to Arabidopsis through natural infection with Agrobacterium.
The highlighted article from CSH Protocols describes three techniques that encourage Agrobacterium to infect Arabidopsis plants: dipping an Arabidopsis flower directly into a solution containing Agrobacterium, mechanically forcing the Agrobacterium into the plant cells by applying vacuum, and simply spraying an Agrobacterium suspension onto the plants.
CSH Protocols (http://www.cshprotocols.org) is an online resource of methods used in a wide range of biology laboratories. It is structured as an interactive database, with each protocol cross-linked to related methods, descriptive information panels, and illustrative material to maximize the total information available to investigators. Each protocol is clearly presented and designed for easy use at the bench--complete with reagents, equipment, and recipe lists. Life science researchers can access the entire collection via institutional site licenses, and can add their suggestions and comments to further refine the techniques.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press is an internationally renowned publisher of books, journals, and electronic media located on Long Island, New York. It is a division of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, an innovator in life science research and the education of scientists, students, and the public. For more information, visit http://www.cshlpress.com.
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