Research ArticlePlant biology

Cytokinins Secreted by Agrobacterium Promote Transformation by Repressing a Plant Myb Transcription Factor

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Science Signaling  19 Nov 2013:
Vol. 6, Issue 302, pp. ra100
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2004518

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Virulent Secretions Put to Good Use

Plant engineering uses bacteria to transform plants and improve characteristics, such as salt or drought tolerance, in economically important crops. Better known as plant hormones that stimulate growth, Sardesai et al. found that cytokinins secreted by the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens promoted the transformation of Arabidopsis plants by inhibiting the expression of MTF1, which encodes a myb transcription factor, in the roots of the plants. Treating roots with trans-zeatin, for example, increased bacterial attachment and induced transformation even in normally resistant Arabidopsis ecotypes through the activities of specific cytokinin-responsive kinases and downstream regulators. Their findings indicate that exposing roots to certain Agrobacterium-secreted cytokinins may subvert a plant’s defenses to improve genetic transformation.

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