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Integration of foreign sequences into the tobacco plastome via polyethylene glycol-mediated protoplast transformation


A new vector, pFaadAII, for transformation of plastids of Nicotiana tabacum L. has been developed. It harbours a chimeric gene consisting of the aadA coding region from Escherichia coli, the 16S rDNA promoter from tobacco combined with a synthetic ribosome-binding site, a 500-bp fragment containing the 3′ untranslated transcript region (UTR) of the Chlamydomonas rbcL gene and 3.75-kb (5′) and 0.95-kb (3′) tobacco plastome sequences allowing for targeting the foreign sequences to the intergenic region between the rpl32 and trnL genes of the tobacco plastome. The vector thus targets foreign sequences to the small single-copy region of the plastome, which has so far not been modified by transformation. Leaf protoplasts of Nicotiana tabacum L. were treated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) in the presence of the vector. The protocol for PEG treatment aiming at plastome transformation was optimized. Cell lines were cultured in the presence of spectinomycin and streptomycin using a novel and efficient protoplast culture and selection system. Regenerants were characterized by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis, Southern hybridization and reciprocal crossings. The transformation procedure is described in detail and parameters influencing its efficiency are presented. Special effort is placed on analyzing suitable selection conditions. Only a proportion of the cell lines with a resistant phenotype could be confirmed by molecular analysis and/or reciprocal crossings to represent plastome transformants. Integration of the plastome specific aadA. cassette into the nuclear genome accounted for a fraction of the resistant cell lines. Still, as many as 20–40 plastome transformants can be expected from the treatment of 106 protoplasts. Therefore, the improved protocol for PEG-mediated plastome transformation in combination with the new aadA-vector supplies a simple, reproducible and cost-efficient alternative to the biolistic procedure.

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polymerase chain reaction


polyethylene glycol


wild type


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The work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB #184). The authors wish to express their gratitude to M. Goldschmidt-Clermont for supplying plasmid pUC-atpX-AAD, A. Blowers for pNtcPs1, and Z. Svab and P. Maliga (Waksman Institute, Piscataway, N.Y., USA) for pZS197, P. Dörfel and W. Kofer (Botanisches Institut, Universität München, Germany) contributed valuable suggestions.

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Koop, H., Steinmüller, K., Wagner, H. et al. Integration of foreign sequences into the tobacco plastome via polyethylene glycol-mediated protoplast transformation. Planta 199, 193–201 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00196559

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Key words

  • Nicotiana
  • Plastid transformation
  • Polyethylene glycol
  • Protoplast