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Plant biologist with culture dish in laboratory.

Plant biologist with culture dish in laboratory.

G280/0149

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Credit

SINCLAIR STAMMERS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SINCLAIR STAMMERS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Scientist with a culture dish containing bacteria used in the creation of transgenic plants. A particular gene is introduced into the Ti (tumour-inducing) plasmid of Agrobacterium tumefaciens. In nature this organism is able to hijack plant cells by insinuating its Ti plasmid into the host cell genome and altering protein production to its own advantage. Plant cells are artificially infected with the bacteria carrying the foreign gene, and an entire fertile plant is regenerated from the transformed cells. Insertion of genes for resistance to disease in crops, or for the production of chemicals such as insulin or interferon, is an attractive prospect.

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