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Publication - Professor Gary Foster

    A silver bullet in a golden age of functional genomics

    the impact of Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of fungi


    Idnurm, A, Bailey, AM, Cairns, T, Elliott, C, Foster, G, Ianiri, G & Jeon, J, 2017, ‘A silver bullet in a golden age of functional genomics: the impact of Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of fungi’. Fungal Biology and Biotechnology, vol 4.


    The implementation of Agrobacterium tumefaciens as a transformation tool revolutionized approaches to discover and understand gene functions in a large number of fungal species. A. tumefaciens mediated transformation (AtMT) is one of the most transformative technologies for research on fungi developed in the last 20 years, a development arguably only surpassed by the impact of genomics. AtMT has been widely applied in forward genetics, whereby generation of strain libraries using random T-DNA insertional mutagenesis, combined with phenotypic screening, has enabled the genetic basis of many processes to be elucidated. Alternatively, AtMT has been fundamental for reverse genetics, where mutant isolates are generated with targeted gene deletions or disruptions, enabling gene functional roles to be determined. When combined with concomitant advances in genomics, both forward and reverse approaches using AtMT have enabled complex fungal phenotypes to be dissected at the molecular and genetic level. Additionally, in several cases AtMT has paved the way for the development of new species to act as models for specific areas of fungal biology, particularly in plant pathogenic ascomycetes and in a number of basidiomycete species. Despite its impact, the implementation of AtMT has been uneven in the fungi. This review provides insight into the dynamics of expansion of new research tools into a large research community and across multiple organisms. As such, AtMT in the fungi, beyond the demonstrated and continuing power for gene discovery and as a facile transformation tool, provides a model to understand how other technologies that are just being pioneered, e.g. CRISPR/Cas, may play roles in fungi and other eukaryotic species.

    Full details in the University publications repository