, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 825-836

Phenotypically normal transgenic T-cyt tobacco plants as a model for the investigation of plant gene expression in response to phytohormonal stress

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The tumour-inducing T-DNA gene 4 (T-cyt gene) of the nopaline Ti plasmid pTiC58 was cloned and introduced into tobacco cells by leaf disc transformation using Agrobacterium plasmid vectors. Tobacco shoots exposed to elevated cytokinin levels were unable to develop roots and lacked apical dominance. Using exogenously applied phytohormone manipulations we were able to regenerate morphologically normal transgenic tobacco plants which differed in endogenous cytokinin levels from normal untransformed plants. Although T-cyt gene mRNA levels, as revealed by dot-blot hybridization data, in these rooting plants were only about half those in primary transformed shoots the total amount of cytokinins was much lower than in crown gall tissue or cytokinin-type transformed shoots as reported by others. Nevertheless the cytokinin content in T-cyt plants was about 3 times greater than in control tobacco plants.

Elevated cytokinin levels have been shown to change the expression of several plant genes, including some nuclear genes encoding chloroplast proteins. Our results show that the mRNA levels of chloroplast rbcL gene increase in cytokinin-type transgenic tobacco plants as compared with untransformed plants. Data obtained suggest that T-cyt transgenic plants are a good model for studying plant gene activity in different parts of the plant under endogenous cytokinin stress.