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  1. Abstract

    Agrobacterium-mediated plant transformation (AMT) is the basis of modern-day plant biotechnology. One major drawback of this technology is the recalcitrance of many plant species/varieties toAgrobacteriuminfection, most likely caused by elicitation of plant defense responses. Here, we develop a strategy to increase AMT by engineeringAgrobacterium tumefaciensto express a type III secretion system (T3SS) fromPseudomonas syringaeand individually deliver theP. syringaeeffectors AvrPto, AvrPtoB, or HopAO1 to suppress host defense responses. Using the engineeredAgrobacterium, we demonstrate increase in AMT of wheat, alfalfa and switchgrass by ~250%–400%. We also show that engineeredA. tumefaciensexpressing a T3SS can deliver a plant protein, histone H2A-1, to enhance AMT. This strategy is of great significance to both basic research and agricultural biotechnology for transient and stable transformation of recalcitrant plant species/varieties and to deliver proteins into plant cells in a non-transgenic manner.

  2. Agrobacterium effector protein VirE2 is important for plant transformation. VirE2 likely coats transferred DNA (T-DNA) in the plant cell and protects it from degradation. VirE2 localizes to the plant cytoplasm and interacts with several host proteins. Plant-expressed VirE2 can complement a virE2 mutant Agrobacterium strain to support transformation. We investigated whether VirE2 could facilitate transformation from a nuclear location by affixing to it a strong nuclear localization signal (NLS) sequence. Only cytoplasmic-, but not nuclear-localized, VirE2 could stimulate transformation. To investigate the ways VirE2 supports transformation, we generated transgenic Arabidopsis plants containing a virE2 gene under the control of an inducible promoter and performed RNA-seq and proteomic analyses before and after induction. Some differentially expressed plant genes were previously known to facilitate transformation. Knockout mutant lines of some other VirE2 differentially expressed genes showed altered transformation phenotypes. Levels of some proteins known to be important for transformation increased in response to VirE2 induction, but prior to or without induction of their corresponding mRNAs. Overexpression of some other genes whose proteins increased after VirE2 induction resulted in increased transformation susceptibility. We conclude that cytoplasmically localized VirE2 modulates both plant RNA and protein levels to facilitate transformation.
  3. A native repABC replication origin from pRiA4b was previously reported as a single copy plasmid in Agrobacterium tumefaciens and can improve the production of transgenic plants with a single copy insertion of transgenes when it is used in binary vectors for Agrobacter-ium-mediated transformation. A high copy pRi-repABC variant plasmid, pTF::Ri, which does not improve the frequency of single copy transgenic plants, has been reported in the litera-ture. Sequencing the high copy pTF::Ri repABC operon revealed the presence of two muta-tions: one silent mutation and one missense mutation that changes a tyrosine to a histidine (Y299H) in a highly conserved area of the C-terminus of the RepB protein (RepBY299H). Reproducing these mutations in the wild-type pRi-repABC binary vector showed that Agro-bacterium cells with the RepBY299H mutation grow faster on both solidified and in liquid medium, and have higher plasmid copy number as determined by ddPCR. In order to inves-tigate the impact of the RepBY299H mutation on transformation and quality plant production, the RepBY299H mutated pRi-repABC binary vector was compared with the original wild-type pRi-repABC binary vector and a multi-copy oriV binary vector in canola transformation. Molecular analyses of the canola transgenic plants demonstrated that the multi-copy pRi-repABC with the RepBY299H mutationmore »provides no advantage in generating high frequency single copy, backbone-free transgenic plants in comparison with the single copy wild-type pRi-repABC binary vector.« less