Tree Genetics & Genomes

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 779–790 | Cite as

Integration and inheritance of transgenes in crop plants and trees

  • M. R. Ahuja
  • M. Fladung


Transgene integration and inheritance have been investigated in a number of crop plants and few tree species. Transgene integration is predominantly a random process, whether mediated by Agrobacterium or particle bombardment. Depending on the genomic position of the integrated transgene and structure of the integration site as well as copy number of the transgene in the genome, its expression may be stable or variable. Therefore, integration patterns would affect the mode of transgene inheritance in plants, regardless of the method of gene transfer. So far, both Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance of transgenes has been reported across several generations (T1–T3) of crop plants. In few tree species (apple, poplar, plum, and American chestnut), mostly Mendelian inheritance of the transgenes has been observed in the T1 or BC1 generations. However, detailed studies in the transgenic papaya trees showed Mendelian segregation of the transgene in the T1 generation but non-Mendelian inheritance in the T2 generation. Variation in transgene inheritance was also detected in transgenic apple and plum trees. Long generation cycles in many economically important tree species preclude investigation of inheritance of transgenes in the tree progeny. Production of early flowering trees, either by genetic modification or by environmental modulation, would facilitate the study of transgene inheritance across generations of transgenic trees. In order to overcome problems of randomness of transgene integration, targeted transgene insertions by homologous or site-specific recombination or by designer recombinases or nucleases offer prospects for stable integration of transgenes in predetermined locations in the plant genome. And perhaps, that might provide a platform for stable expression and Mendelian inheritance of transgenes in plants.


Transgene integration Transgene inheritance Transgenic crops Transgenic trees 



MRA is thankful to the Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA, for the research and library facilities and thanks David Neale for the interesting discussions and hospitality. MF is grateful to the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE), and German Research Foundation (DFG) for the financial support of several projects related to the topics of this review.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Thünen Institute of Forest GeneticsGrosshansdorfGermany
  2. 2.New PaltzUSA

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