A plant transformation and regeneration system has been developed for Populus species. Leaf explants, from stabilized shoot cultures of a Populus hybrid NC-5339 (Populus alba x grandidentata), were co-cultivated with Agrobacterium tumefaciens on a tobacco nurse culture. Both oncogenic and disarmed strains of A. tumefaciens harboring a binary vector which contained two neomycin phophotransferase II (NPT II′) and one bacterial 5-enolpyruvylshikimate 3-phosphate (EPSP) synthase (aroA) chimeric gene fusions were used. Shoots did not develop when leaf explants were co-cultivated with the binary disarmed strain of A. tumefaciens. However, transformed plants with and without the wild type T-DNA were obtained using an oncogenic binary strain of A. tumefaciens. Successful genetic transformation was confirmed by NPT II′ enzyme activity assays, Southern blot analysis and immunological detection of bacterial EPSP synthase by Western blotting. This is the first report of a successful recovery of transformed plants of a forest tree and also the first record of insertion and expression of a foreign gene of agronomic importance into a woody plant species.
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