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Evidence for Agrobacterium-Induced Apoptosis in Maize Cells

June 2000 , Volume 13 , Number  6
Pages  649 - 657

Geneviève Hansen

Novartis Agribusiness Biotechnology, Inc. (NABRI), 3054 Cornwallis Road, Research Triangle Park, Durham, NC 27709, U.S.A.

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Accepted 14 February 2000.

Agrobacterium spp. can genetically transform most dicotyledonous plant cells whereas many monocot species are recalcitrant to Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. One major obstacle is that co-cultivation of Agrobacterium spp. with plant tissues often results in cell death. Report here is that, in maize tissues, this process resembles apoptosis, with characteristic DNA cleavage into oligonucleosomal fragments and morphological changes. Two anti-apoptotic genes from baculovirus, p35 and iap, had the ability to prevent the onset of apoptosis triggered by Agrobacterium spp. in maize tissues. p35 is reported to act as a direct inhibitor of a certain class of proteases (caspase) whereas iap may act upstream to prevent their activation. This evidence raises the possibility that caspase-like proteases may also be involved in the apoptotic pathway in plant cells.

© 2000 The American Phytopathological Society