A Really Useful Pathogen, Agrobacterium tumefaciens
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Bacteria of the genus Agrobacterium are very useful and unusual plant pathogens. Through a rare inter-kingdom DNA transfer, the bacteria move some of their genes into their host's genome, thereby inducing the host cells to proliferate and produce opines, nutrients sources for the pathogen. Agrobacterium's ability to transfer DNA makes can be adapted to introduce other genes, such as those encoding useful traits, into plant genomes. The development of Agrobacterium as a tool to transform plants is a landmark event in modern plant biology. This lecture provides an introduction to Agrobacterium tumefaciens and related species, focusing on their modes of pathogenicity, their usefulness as tools for plant transformation, and their use as a model for the study of plant-pathogen interactions.
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