General Conference abstract: Agrobacterium 2021, Belgium, October 11-12 2021


Philipp RĂ¼ter, Adriana Aurori, Ellen De Keyser

Poster presentation -

With climate change, we are experiencing more and more periods of drought, a water shortage increasingly earlier in the summer, and heavier precipitation in the fall and winter. These longer periods of drought will result in significant yield losses. In addition, the use of chemical plant growth regulators is under pressure due to their potentially harmful effects on humans and the environment. In this project we want to address these 2 topics in parallel by developing a new sustainable breeding technology [1] that focuses on the roots, using Rhizobium rhizogenes.

poster agrobacterium 2021

Natural strains of Rhizobium rhizogenes contain a unique Ri plasmid (which includes the rol genes) that allows them to transfer and incorporate the T-DNA genes lying on this plasmid into the plant genome. The result is extreme root formation (hairy roots). When these roots in turn regenerate into a plant, one obtains Ri plants. The presence of the Ri genes in these plants results in a typical phenotype with a more pronounced root system and more compact growth, as well as changes in flowering and leaf morphology. The project focuses on four different model systems widely grown over Europe: apple, rose, chrysanthemum and sunflower, covering with these crops the industrial crops, fruits, woody plants and ornamentals. We believe that the altered rooting system could have an impact on the drought tolerance of the plants and for rose and apple, it might also be a solution to reduce the impact of replant disease.

These Ri plants are 'pre-breeding' material and can result in commercial cultivars with a stronger root system and meeting all the specific quality characteristics. This new breeding technology will make the agricultural and horticultural sector more resilient to drought and contributes to more sustainable production using fewer plant growth regulators.

[1] S. Desmet et al., Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 2020, 2435-2451