Almost 40 years ago the first transgenic plant was generated through Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation, which, until now, remains the method of choice for gene delivery into plants. Ever since, optimized Agrobacterium strains have been developed with additional (genetic) modifications that were mostly aimed at enhancing the transformation efficiency, although an optimized strain also exists that reduces unwanted plasmid recombination.
As a result, a collection of very useful strains has been created to transform a wide variety of plant species but has also led to a confusing Agrobacterium strain nomenclature. The latter is often misleading for choosing the best-suited strain for one’s transformation purposes. To overcome this issue, we provide a complete overview of the strain classification.
We also indicate different strain modifications and their purposes, as well as the obtained results with regard to the transformation process sensu largo. Furthermore, we propose additional improvements of the Agrobacterium-mediated transformation process and consider several worthwhile modifications, for instance, by circumventing a defense response in planta. In this regard, we will discuss pattern-triggered immunity, pathogen-associated molecular pattern detection, hormone homeostasis and signaling, and reactive oxygen species in relationship to Agrobacterium transformation.
We will also explore alterations that increase agrobacterial transformation efficiency, reduce plasmid recombination, and improve biocontainment. Finally, we recommend the use of a modular system to best utilize the available knowledge for successful plant transformation.