Utilizing Plant Pigment-related Transcription Factor Genes for the Development of New Petunia Cultivars With Enhanced Ornamental Value

Jernigan, Hannah
Petunias are one of the most popular annual flower crops because they have beautiful blooms from spring to frost, and come in a plethora of varieties. Gene engineering is an expanding field for both research and commercial purposes to add desired traits of interest in existing commercial crop cultivars. Anthocyanin biosynthesis has been extensively used for the genetic manipulation of flower color. This flavonoid can be traced to several genes derived from different plants. The goal of this study was to insert a differently derived transcription factors and evaluate their efficiency to produce novel phenotypes for ornamental purposes. Petunia leaves were excised from seedlings growing in tissue culture and wounded using tweezers. The leaves were then suspended in a solution of A. tumefaciens carrying a regulatory gene (LC, MybA1, or Ruby) that overexpresses the production of anthocyanin pigments. After following predetermined protocol for transformation and post transformation red pigmentation was observed in cells of petunia leaf discs co-cultivated with the desired gene. Within two weeks transgenic red shoots interspersed with non-transformed green color shoots emerged. Transgenic shoots were transferred to rooting medium and then acclimated. Plants with red foliage and petals were observed. Subsequent studies include regenerating transgenic plant lines and examining co-suppression due to overexpression of pigment genes.
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