"The SE lab"
The laboratory for somatic embryogenesis and genetic transformation ("the SE lab") was established as a technical platform at UPSC in 2009. The primary function of the platform is to test candidate genes in Norway spruce (Picea abies) that is used as the model conifer species. The laboratory functions as a service platform for all groups at UPSC that wish to test their research findings in conifers. The laboratory is also working with different research aspects of somatic embryogenesis and organogenesis in hardwood species such as Poplar/Aspens and Eucalyptus.
se-lab 1Somatic embryogenesis (SE) in Norway spruce (Picea abies). (top left) Dissected seed with zygotic embryo used for initiation of SE; (top right) proliferating culture of early stages of somatic embryos (Pro Embryogenic Masses; PEMs); (bottom left) culture of mature somatic embryos; (bottom right) germinated somatic embryos.

se-lab 2Organogenesis in E. globulus (left) and P. tremula (right)

Different genotypes of embryogenic cell lines of Norway spruce of are kept in the SE lab and are available for gene testing experiments. These cell lines are all potential elite clones derived from the operational spruce breeding program run by the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden (Skogforsk).The cell lines have been tested for plant regeneration capabilities and the somatic embryos have been shown to mature, germinate and form plants when cultured with standard protocols.

Spruce Transformation

transformation 1
(left) Early stage somatic embryos (PEMs) in liquid suspension culture; (right) positive GUS staining in culture of PEMs.


The SE lab has a biolistic gene transfer apparatus for particle-mediated transfer of foreign DNA into the somatic embryos. The device works well with most cell lines and has been extensively used in the past in other labs for studying gene function in conifers. So far, several different SE cell lines in the SE lab have been transformed with a reporter gene construct and stably transformed plants are underway.
transformation 2
Norway spruce somatic embryo culture transformed by Agrobacterium procedures. The pictures show positive GUS staining in somatic embryos at different developmental stages; (left) proliferating cultures of early stage somatic embryos (PEMs); (middle) mature somatic embryos and (right) stem and needle cuttings from transformed plants.

To date there are only a few reports available on successful transformation of spruce somatic embryos by Agrobacterium mediated transformation. The SE lab is also using and developing this transformation technology and has already generated Agrobacterium-transformed spruce seedlings and plants.

Embryogenic cell lines used in research programs and cell lines from the breeding program are important to maintain in a viable state for future uses. Decline of vitality and maturation capacity is often the result of continuous in vitro culture; it is thus important to preserve the cell lines under long term storage conditions that preserve viability. For this, we use cryopreservation techniques and instrumentation that allows us to store the embryogenic cell lines under liquid nitrogen for extended times without damage to the viability of the somatic embryos.

Transformation information
The Genomics facility has designed and created transformation vectors (pBGWSPA-UBI and pBGWSXA-GUS) to enable easy cloning of UPSC candidate genes and for use with the SE-lab's biolistic transformation systems. In addition new vectors (pSBIIIAGUSSXA and pSBIIIAUBISPA) has been created for the Agrobacterium-based transformation system.

  • The SE-lab provides a standard transformation work-package for research purpose only which includes transformation (by biolistic device or Agrobacterium), generation of transgenic SE cultures and transgenic plants.
  • It does NOT include design and preparation of the construct for transformation.
  • The transgenic SE cultures can be cryopreserved as an additional service.

To place an order for spruce transformation

Fill out the transformation request form below with accurate information and submit on line. Once the request has been reviewed, you will be contacted by the SE lab manager Sofie Johansson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for further information and discussion of specific details.

Request form for Spruce transformation

Contact information
Ulrika Egertsdotter (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Spruce transformation
Sofie Johansson (Research engineer and Lab manager)
Ioana Gaboreanu (Research engineer)