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Richard Meilan, Caiping Ma and Steven H. Strauss

We assessed the stability of transgene expression in 79 transgenic lines (i.e., transformation events) of hybrid poplars during several years of field trials. The transgenic lines were comprised of 40 lines of hybrid cottonwoods (P. trichocarpa × P. deltoides) that were grown at three field sites, and 39 lines of hybrid aspens (section Leuce, P. alba × P. tremula) that were grown at a single field site. All the lines were transformed with a binary construct that included two genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate (GOX and CP4), a gene encoding resistance to the antibiotic kanamycin (nptII), and a visible marker gene (GUS). Agrobacterium tumefaciens was used for transformation; callogenesis and organogenesis occurred under kanamycin selection. In addition to repeated applications of herbicide to test stability of transgene expression, for the first time, we challenged ramets of 40 lines that had not previously been tested for herbicide resistance in their fourth season of vegetative growth. We report on the stability of herbicide resistance and GUS expression and evidence for somaclonal variation in growth and leaf morphology.

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Kelly J. Vining, Ryan N. Contreras, Martin Ranik and Steven H. Strauss

Because cultivation of exotic woody ornamental plants has led to establishment of a number of invasive species, there is considerable interest in breeding methods to reduce the propensity for spread. We review progress in conventional breeding and transgenic biotechnology approaches to producing sterile forms of ornamental woody plants. Conventional forms of inducing sterility, including induction of polyploidy, interspecific hybridization, and mutagenesis, are generally inexpensive and can be applied to a diversity of species at low to moderate cost. They have also been shown to be capable of producing commercially successful cultivars. In contrast, despite a variety of highly promising and rapidly developing approaches using transgenic methods, the inability to efficiently regenerate and genetically transform most ornamental species makes application of these innovations highly problematic. Moreover, because of the fragmented pattern of ornamental nursery ownership, the numerous species and varieties used, and the high regulatory cost for permits to sell most types of transgenic varieties (even when their environmental risk of spread has been reduced by sterility), application of transgenic methods is largely infeasible. A combination of fundamental regulatory reform and expanded biological research on generalized transformation and sterility methods is needed to overcome these barriers.