The Plant Biotechnology Laboratory

Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology - College of the Environment and Life Sciences

Plant Transformation

The Plant Biotechnology is well equipped and has extensive expertise on genetic modification of plants. The PBL has worked on a wide range of plant species and welcomes collaborations and contracts on any plant, however the PBL specializes in monocot transgenics (grasses and cereal crops). Cereal crops feed the world, providing more food energy worldwide, grown in greater quantities on more land, and across more diverse ecosystems than any other type of crop. In recent years, the functional development of a genome-level understanding in cereal species linking genes to phenotypes has been the subject of intensive and extensive analyses. A fundamental but often underappreciated technology for understanding the plant genome and utilizing plants to their greatest potential involves the capability to create, test and cultivate transgenics. This technology can introduce valuable agronomic genetic variation into crops, functionally link genes to biological functions, modify metabolic pathways, and create robust plant-abiotic and biotic stress resistance. Some of the most innovative and important scientific discoveries and agricultural enablements would not have been possible without transgenic technologies. For instance, transgenics have enabled crop resistance to environmentally friendly herbicides, plants resistance to viral and microbial pathogens, and stress-resistance crops. Vitamin A and iron biofortification in maize and rice was made possible by transgenic technologies, just to name a few. Indeed, the number of trait genes that have been examined and demonstrated to be effective in transgenic plants far exceeds those that are currently commercialized.

At the basic scientific research level, transgenic technology is an essential resource. The application of Koch’s Principles renders robust transgenic capabilities an imperative genomics technology. The ability to knock-out (down) gene expression, conduct expression analyses with reporter genes, make specific adjustments in protein structure and function, and observe over-expression and ecotopic characteristics represent a few examples of transgenics’ role in basic plant biology. Plant transgenic technology will continue to play an essential role scientific research and in the introduction of novel genes that convey traits pertinent to pest, stress and drought tolerance, as well as a host of other important agronomic characteristics.

Genetic transformation of the major cereal crops, such as maize, rice, wheat, barley, sorghum, oats and rye has been achieved but major problems remain that limit widespread utility. While transformation of many dicots is routinely used in laboratories worldwide, cereal transformation is still considered quite difficult, cumbersome and not widely practiced or accessible. In fact, cereal crops are considered the one of the most difficult transgenic systems. The PBL invites collaborations using transgenic cereals.
In addition, The Plant Biotechnology Laboratory welcomes collaborations and contracts using techniques which are still under review as non-GMO techniques in the US and abroad, but which may require DNA transfer as part of the development procedures including; the use of zinc finger nucleases (ZNF), TALENS, and CRISPRs as mutagenesis agents, cisgenics, development of GMOs as bridge intermediates for wide crosses, use of GMOs for embryo rescue in wide crosses, and whole chromosome transfers. Since these techniques generally require advanced tissue culture, use of embryogenic cell cultures and their intermediates, the expertise in the PBL is well suited to these applications.

Collaborations

The Plant Biotechnology Laboratory welcomes collaborative efforts using genetic modification (GMO) approaches to plant research and crop improvement. By means of collaboration the PBL encourages approaches to transgenic based projects where working together with other laboratories or groups to do a task and to achieve shared goals involving the advanced techniques available in the lab is for a mutually beneficial outcome. The PBL is fully capable to generate the required number of independent low copy insertion events, conduct molecular and phenotypic characterizations necessary for any study that utilizes transgenic plants. Transgenic protocols can be custom designed. The PBL has capabilities for Agrobacterium-mediated transformation, microprojectile bombardment, Si-wiskers, and if needed, protoplast-based transformation, each with a variety of selectable marker capabilities. Such collaborations can be developed through mutually shared resources (personnel, equipment etc.) and expertise. The PBL expects that through its collaborative efforts, to be recognized as part of the effort through co-authorship on peer reviewed publications and/or co-inventorship on intellectual properties, including utility and process patents, PVPs and Breeders Rights, where appropriate and subject to the University of Rhode Island Intellectual Property Policy. In other words, we do not engage in collaborations as fee for service activity (see Contracts) but as active and engaged research participants. Also, the PBL is not subsidized by outside funding or federal agency sources for these types of efforts, therefore collaborators are encouraged to provide assistance wherever possible to accomplish the goals, including: visiting scientists, student or postdocs who will be trained; supplies; and/or funding for hiring the required personnel. Greenhouse and field space are available and part of the cost of the project. Details concerning projects can be discussed by contacting Dr. Albert Kausch, Director of The Plant Biotechnology Laboratory.

Contracts

The Plant Biotechnology Laboratory welcomes contractual efforts using genetic modification (GMO) approaches to plant research and crop improvement. In the case of a contract as compared with a collaboration, the PBL will produce transgenic materials using a clients method of choice. Pricing will vary on a case by case basis based on the scope of the project, numbers of independent events, numbers of clones, stage of development, (T0 plants, T1 seed etc.), the plant or cultivar of interest and the techniques utilized. In the case of contract work, the PBL or its members do not necessarily require or request co-authorship or co-inventorship.

Stable Plant Transformation Costs*

Plant Species/Cultivar Collaborator Non-Collaborator
Maize
Hi II
T0 plantlet per event

$550

$725

Maize
Hi II
Transgenic seed per event

$550

$725

Maize
Hi II
Transgenic callus per infection

$1175

$1275

Rice
cv Nipponbare
T0 plantlet per event

$590

$675

Switchgrass
cvs Alamo, Kanlow
T0 plantlet per event

$515

$560

Sorghum
T0 plantlet per event

$690

$850

Turfgrasses
Creeping bentgrass
T0 plantlet per event

$790

$850

Wheat
T0 plantlet per event

$690

$750

Tobacco
T0 plantlet per event

$260

$270

* Subject to case-by-case evaluations and the number of requested clones per event.  Also, pricing is subject to contributions by collaborator (i.e. visiting scientists, graduate students etc.) Listed price is per event cost. Each event can be carried to T1 seeds except for switchgrass which is only carried to plantlets in culture tubes or PlantCons. Events that are carried to T0 seeding or earlier culture stages will be charged at a lower price.  Greenhouse costs not included. Please contact us if you have questions regarding our pricing.

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