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Nicotiana benthamiana: Its History and Future as a Model for Plant--Pathogen Interactions

August 2008 , Volume 21 , Number  8
Pages  1,015 - 1,026

Michael M. Goodin,1 David Zaitlin,2 Rayapati A. Naidu,3 and Steven A. Lommel4

1Department of Plant Pathology and 2Kentucky Tobacco Research and Development Center (KTRDC), University of Kentucky, Lexington 40546, U.S.A.; 3Department of Plant Pathology, Irrigated Agriculture Research & Extension Center, Washington State University, Prosser 99350, U.S.A.; 4Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27695, U.S.A.

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Accepted 11 April 2008.

Nicotiana benthamiana is the most widely used experimental host in plant virology, due mainly to the large number of diverse plant viruses that can successfully infect it. Additionally, N. benthamiana is susceptible to a wide variety of other plant-pathogenic agents (such as bacteria, oomycetes, fungi, and so on), making this species a cornerstone of host--pathogen research, particularly in the context of innate immunity and defense signaling. Moreover, because it can be genetically transformed and regenerated with good efficiency and is amenable to facile methods for virus-induced gene silencing or transient protein expression, N. benthamiana is rapidly gaining popularity in plant biology, particularly in studies requiring protein localization, interaction, or plant-based systems for protein expression and purification. Paradoxically, despite being an indispensable research model, little is known about the origins, genetic variation, or ecology of the N. benthamiana accessions currently used by the research community. In addition to addressing these latter topics, the purpose of this review is to provide information regarding sources for tools and reagents that can be used to support research in N. benthamiana. Finally, we propose that N. benthamiana is well situated to become a premier plant cell biology model, particularly for the virology community, who as a group were the first to recognize the potential of this unique Australian native.

Additional keywords:AFLP, agroinfiltration, Arabidopsis, VIGS.

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society