Introduction

An efficient transformation method is needed for genetic studies and plant improvement. A large flow of putatively useful genes is now being supplied from genomics research on various living organisms. Final evaluation of such genes has to be done in transgenic plants, into which each gene is incorporated. Each gene should be properly integrated into a plant. There is a wide variation in quality of transformants in terms of level, time and site of expression; somaclonal variation; and physical state of transgenes. A number of transformants have to be created for selection of appropriate transformed plants. Transformation is therefore one of the key processes in plant biotechnology.

Genetic transformation delivers DNA into plant cells and regenerates plants from such cells. Physical delivery includes gene gun or electroporation methods; biological delivery uses Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Monocotyledons, including most major cereal crops such as rice, wheat and maize, are generally transformed by physical methods; dicotyledons such as tobacco, tomato, oilseed rape and potato, are transformed by Agro-bacterium.

Agrobacterium-mediated transformation offers a number of advantages, including a defined transgene, low copy number and easy handling, but it was long believed that this method is applicable, with a few exceptions, only to dicotyledons, which are the natural hosts of this soil-borne pathogen. However, stable and efficient transformation of economically important cereal crops by Agrobacterium has been reported.

This report discusses the factors to be noted in Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of various cereal crops. The development of low glutelin rice for better quality in sake brewing and cooking is then presented as an example of rice improvement in biotechnology.

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