Franklin Gregory “HyperAgro: Understanding the relevance of pathogenesis-related defence mechanisms in plant recalcitrance against Agrobacterium mediated transformation” OPUS 2018-2021

Agrobacterium tumefaciens mediated plant transformation is an indispensable tool for crop improvement, plant functional genomics, genome editing and synthetic biology (Hwang et al., 2015; Nester, 2015; Sainsbury and Lomonossoff, 2014; Xu et al., 2014). Unfortunately, several economically important plant species (example: members of legumes, cereals, biofuel crops, fruit trees, medicinal plants) remain difficult to transform using this bacterium (plant recalcitrance), a phenomenon yet to be understood. Moreover, the widespread of plant recalcitrance phenomenon in the plant kingdom makes the use of such contemporary tools as CRISPR / Cas9 or RNAi limited to only a few plant species. Although the mechanism of plant recalcitrance is still unknown, successful activation of plant defense response against A. tumefaciens is the prevailing cause (Hou et al 2016). We have shown that an incompatible interaction between A. tumefaciens and a recalcitrant plant leads to the death of A. tumefaciens and prevents T-DNA transfer (Franklin et al 2008, 2009, Hou et al 2016). Although many studies enriched the wealth of our knowledge regarding plant- A. tumefaciens interaction (Veena et al 2003, Ditt et al 2006, Yuan et al 2007, Anand et al 2008), the molecular determinants of plant recalcitrance and how recalcitrant plant species effectively avoid gene transfer into their cells are yet to be uncovered. Therefore, the discovery of this incompatible Plant- A. tumefaciens interaction will provide us with the exciting possibility to utilize this system as a model to understand how recalcitrant plants avoid gene transfer into their cells. In this way, successful completion of the project would revolutionize functional genomics of several economically important crops.