Development of a New Genetic Transformation System for White and Green Ash Using Embryogenic Cultures

Andrew Ryan Tull, Heather Gladfelter, Flavia Pampolini, Lynne Rieske, Charles Dana Nelson, Scott Merkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


All North American ash (Fraxinus spp.) species are threatened by the emerald ash borer (EAB; Agrilus planipennis), an exotic beetle which has already destroyed millions of ash trees in the U.S. and Canada. Although both chemical insecticides and biological control can be effective, and host resistance appears possible, the speed of the invasion has defied traditional management approaches. One potential, innovative approach to managing this destructive insect is to develop a host tree-induced gene silencing strategy using RNA interference (RNAi) constructs targeting EAB-specific genes. An important requirement for applying RNAi technology is a reliable transformation/regeneration system for the host tree species. We developed an Agrobacterium-mediated gene transfer system for white ash (F. americana) and green ash (F. pennsylvanica) using the embryogenic cultures of these species as target material. Embryogenic suspension cultures of multiple genotypes of both species were plated and inoculated with A. tumefaciens carrying the pFHI-GUSi expression vector, which carries the nptII selectable marker and intron-GUS reporter genes, followed by selection on a semi-solid medium containing geneticin. Putative transgenic events showed expression of the GUS gene at all tested developmental stages from callus to plantlets, and transgene presence in the leaves of regenerated plants was confirmed using PCR. The overall average transformation efficiency achieved was 14.5 transgenic events per gram of tissue. Transgenic somatic seedlings of two white ash and three green ash genotypes were produced and acclimated to greenhouse conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number671
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Fraxinus americana
  • Fraxinus pennsylvanica
  • GUSi
  • emerald ash borer
  • somatic embryogenesis
  • transgenic trees

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry


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