Cytokinins play an important role in regulating plant growth and development. The cytokinin gene, isopentenyl transferase (ipt), was placed under the control of the ACC oxidase promoter from the LEACO1 gene from Lycopersicon esculentum and introduced into Nicotiana tabacum (cv. Havana) and chrysanthemum (Dendranthema × grandiflorum `Iridon'). Transformants were confirmed by PCR reaction and Southern blot and analyzed for phenotypical changes under both greenhouse and growth chamber conditions. With both species, LEACO1-ipt transgenic plants displayed a wide range of vegetative and generative phenotypes. With plants growing in the vegetative state, some LEACO1-ipt transgenic lines appeared similar to the non-transgenic wild-type cultivars while other lines showed excessive lateral branch development and short internodes. With plants grown under generative conditions, several LEACO1-ipt transgenic lines showed a 2 to 10-fold increase in the number of flower buds relative to the wild-type cultivars. With chrysanthemum, dramatic increases in bud count were observed on transgenic lines that otherwise displayed a morphology similar to the non-transgenic lines. Analysis of ipt expression indicated a marked change in gene expression between the most extreme phenotypes observed in this study. LEACO1-ipt lines that express normal vegetative development but increased flower bud counts appear to have great potential for ornamental crop improvement.
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