Expression of therolB gene enhances adventitious root formation in hardwood cuttings of aspen

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An elite aspen hybrid (Populus × canescens × P. grandidentata) was transformed with Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain EHA105 that harbored a binary vector (pBI121) carrying the nptII gene under the nos promoter and tandem rolB-uidA (GUS) genes with the CaMV 35S or heat shock promoter. Among 32 independent kanamycin-resistant plants, 25 plants were confirmed by polymerase chain reaction and Southern blot analyses to contain all three genes, whereas five plants contained only nptII or/and uidA genes and two plants had both the rolB and nptII or uidA genes. Integration of the rolB gene significantly increased rooting ability of hardwood cuttings. Heat shock-rolB-transformed plants rooted at significantly higher percentage than the CaMV 35S-rolB-transformed plants. Heat shock treatment further enhanced rooting of heat shock-rolB-transformed plants. Exposure to exogenous auxin did not significantly increase the rooting percentage of transgenic hardwood cuttings, but increased the number of roots induced. This research shows great potential to improve rooting of hardwood cuttings of difficult-to-root woody plants which are commercially important to the horticultural and forestry industry. The transgenic plants with gain-of-function in hardwood-cutting rooting can facilitate research in the understanding of adventitious rooting from hardwood cuttings of recalcitrant woody plants.

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