Strain specificity in transformation of alfalfa by Agrobacterium tumefaciens

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Production of transgenic alfalfa plants by Agrobacterium-mediated transformation requires Agrobacterium infection and regeneration from tissue culture. Variation in alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) germplasm for resistance to oncogenic and disarmed strains of A. tumefaciens (Smith & Townsend) Conn was tested in plant populations representing the nine distinct sources of alfalfa germplasm introduced into North America and used to develop modern varieties. For each of the virulent strains there was a positive correlation (p=0.05) of resistance to tumorigenesis with the trait for fall dormancy. There was also a significant correlation between plants selected for ineffective nodulation and resistance to tumorigenesis suggesting that the genetic loci required for successful symbiosis are also involved in tumorigenesis. Tissue explants of seedlings from the nine diversity groups were tested for transformation by three disarmed strains containing a plasmid with the scorable marker β-glucuronidase. The strong correlation between dormancy and resistance to oncogenic strains was not observed with disarmed strains. However, there was a strong germplasm-strain interaction or transformation and embryogenesis in a highly embryogenic genotype. Thus, transformation at the whole plant level is germplasm dependent while in tissue culture the bacterial strain used is the critical variable for successful transformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-277
Number of pages7
JournalPlant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1995


  • Crown gall
  • somatic embryogenesis
  • tissue culture
  • transgenic plants


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