SINCLAIR STAMMERS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SINCLAIR STAMMERS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Scientist holding a specimen of a transgenic tobacco plant, Nicotiana sp., genetically engineered by the soil bacterium, Agrobacterium tumifaciens (in culture dish in his left hand). Transgenic plants carry foreign, protein-producing genes with the potential, for example, to introduce resistance to herbicides, insects & viruses. Agrobacterium is able to hijack its host's DNA using a small strand of its own DNA known as a Ti (tumour-inducing) plasmid. T-DNA causes the plant cell to produce opines, compounds derived from amino-acids that Agrobacterium uses for energy. The Ti plasmids can be enhanced by modifications to produce healthy, fertile plants.
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