Plant Bioreactors

plantbiosideAgrobacterium tumefaciens is a plant pathogen that transfers genetic material from itself to plants as part of its natural infection cycle. This natural ability to transfrom plants has been used as the basis for a technique termed agroinfiltration, which uses modified forms of A. tumefaciens to vector genes of interest into plant cells with the intention that the plant cells will, in turn, express the inserted genes. Agroinfiltration is a powerful tool in plant biotechnology and has implications for nascent commercial plant expression platforms. While effective in many plant systems, the efficacy of agroinfiltration is variable depending on the plant species and strain of A. tumefaciens used. This variability is a major factor in keeping agroinfiltration from reaching its full potential as both a research and industrial tool.

We seek to elucidate the physical and biological factors that affect the efficacy of agroinfiltration with the goal of identifying targets for optimizing agroinfiltration in a variety of plant species. Our variables of interest include physical factors important for bringing A. tumefaciens into close contact with plant cells, such as applied vacuum and addition of surfactants.


Liu P-F, Wang Y, Ulrich RG, Simmons CW, VanderGheynst JS, Gallo RL, Huang C-M. 2018. Leaf-encapsulated vaccines: Agroinfiltration and transient expression of the antigen Staphylococcal Endotoxin B in radish leaves. Journal of Immunology Research (in press).

Simmons CS, Nitin N, VanderGheynst JS. 2014. Attachment of Agrobacterium tumefaciens to leaf tissue in response to infiltration conditions. Biotechnology Progress 30(5):1137-1144.

Simmons CW, Nitin N, VanderGheynst JS. 2012. Rapid, in situ detection of Agrobacterium tumefaciens attachment to leaf tissue. Biotechnology Progress 28(5):1321-1328.

Simmons CW, VanderGheynst JS, Upadhyaya SK. 2009. A Model of Agrobacterium tumefaciens Vacuum Infiltration Into Harvested Leaf Tissue and Subsequent In Planta Transgene Transient Expression. Biotechnology and Bioengineering 102(3):965-970.

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