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Open Access Open Badges Methodology

A simple and efficient transient transformation for hybrid aspen (Populus tremula × P. tremuloides)

Naoki Takata12 and Maria E Eriksson13*

Author Affiliations

1 Umeå Plant Science Centre, Department of Plant Physiology, Umeå University, SE-901 87, Umeå, Sweden

2 Present address: Forest Bio-Research Center, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Hitachi, Ibaraki, 319-1301, Japan

3 Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3EA, UK

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Plant Methods 2012, 8:30  doi:10.1186/1746-4811-8-30

Published: 7 August 2012



The genus Populus is accepted as a model system for molecular tree biology. To investigate gene functions in Populus spp. trees, generating stable transgenic lines is the common technique for functional genetic studies. However, a limited number of genes have been targeted due to the lengthy transgenic process. Transient transformation assays complementing stable transformation have significant advantages for rapid in vivo assessment of gene function. The aim of this study is to develop a simple and efficient transient transformation for hybrid aspen and to provide its potential applications for functional genomic approaches.


We developed an in planta transient transformation assay for young hybrid aspen cuttings using Agrobacterium-mediated vacuum infiltration. The transformation conditions such as the infiltration medium, the presence of a surfactant, the phase of bacterial growth and bacterial density were optimized to achieve a higher transformation efficiency in young aspen leaves. The Agrobacterium infiltration assay successfully transformed various cell types in leaf tissues. Intracellular localization of four aspen genes was confirmed in homologous Populus spp. using fusion constructs with the green fluorescent protein. Protein-protein interaction was detected in transiently co-transformed cells with bimolecular fluorescence complementation technique. In vivo promoter activity was monitored over a few days in aspen cuttings that were transformed with luciferase reporter gene driven by a circadian clock promoter.


The Agrobacterium infiltration assay developed here is a simple and enhanced throughput method that requires minimum handling and short transgenic process. This method will facilitate functional analyses of Populus genes in a homologous plant system.

Populus; Agrobacterium-mediated vacuum infiltration; Transient expression; Subcellular localization; Co-localization; Luciferase reporter assay