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Leon Otten

Institut de Biologie Moléculaire des Plantes, Strasbourg, France

Ecological genetics 2016; XVI (4) : 26-31
cT-DNAs, natural GMOs, horizontal gene transfer, speciation,


Several cases have been reported of naturally transformed plant species. These plants contain cellular T-DNAs (cT-DNAs) derived from ancient infections by Agrobacterium. We have determined the structure of 4 different cT-DNAs in N. tomentosiformis, the paternal ancestor of N. tabacum, and found several intact open reading frames. Among these, TB-mas2’ and TA-rolC were tested for activity. TB-mas2’ encodes desoxyfructosylglutamine (DFG) synthesis. Some N. tabacum cultivars show very high TB-mas2’ expression and produce DFG in their roots. The TA-rolC gene is biologically active and when expressed under strong constitutive promoter control, generates growth changes in N. tabacum. Based on these first data on the structure and function of cT-DNAs I present a theoretical model on the origin and evolution of naturally transformed plants, which may serve as a basis for further research in this field.

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