Nilsson O, Olsson O
Getting to the root: The role of the Agrobacterium rhizogenes rol genes in the formation of hairy roots
Physiologia Plantarum: 1997 100:463-473
Agrobacterium tumefaciens and A. rhizogenes are the causative agents of the crown gall and hairy root diseases, respectively. The pathogenicity of both species is caused by an inter-kingdom transfer of DNA from the bacteria to wounded plant cells. This 'transfer-DNA' (T-DNA) contains oncogenes whose expression transforms the plant recipient cell into a rapidly dividing tumour cell. In the case of A. tumefaciens, three of these oncogenes have been shown to encode enzymes catalyzing the biosynthesis of the plant growth hormones auxin and cytokinin. Therefore, the unorganized cell division in the crown gall tumour can be largely explained by an unrealated overproduction of these plant growth regulators. In contrast, the hairy root disease is characterized by a massive growth of adventitious roots at the site of infection. Because of the similarities of the infection processes, and because A. rhizogenes and A. tumefaciens are very closely related, it has been suggested that the most important A. rhizogenes oncogenes, the so called rol genes, are also encoding proteins involved in the regulation of plant hormone metabolism. However, recent data indicate that this is not the case. Thus the rol genes have functions that most Likely are different from producing mere alterations of plant hormone concentrations. This review summarizes recent results concerning the expression and function of the rol genes, and presents a model for the role of these genes, especially rolB and rolC, in the A. rhizogenes infection process.
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