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American Chemical Society's Weekly PressPac -- Oct. 3, 2007
Date:10/8/2007

Here is the latest American Chemical Society (ACS) News Service Weekly PressPac with news from ACS' 36 peer-reviewed journals and Chemical & Engineering News. Please credit the individual journal or the American Chemical Society as the source for this information.


ARTICLE #1 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hyped-up hopes for hairy roots as biofactories
Biotechnology Progress

Scientists are reporting an advance towards tapping the immense potential of 'hairy roots' as natural factories to produce medicines, food flavorings and other commercial products. Their study is scheduled for the November/December issue of ACS' Biotechnology Progress, a bi-monthly journal.

The new research makes use of structures formed by a common soil bacterium that infects plants and incorporates its own DNA into the plant's genome. By inserting a specific gene into the bacterium, researchers can integrate that gene into the host's DNA. Eventually, the host plant develops a system of fuzzy roots near the site of the infection. These so-called 'hairy roots' can be grown in cell cultures that churn out the product of the inserted gene -- a natural-product based or a protein-based drug, for instance -- with a stability and productivity not possible with most other plant cell cultures.

In the new study, Ka-Yiu San and colleagues point out that scientists have long wanted to harness the production prowess of hairy roots for industry, but first needed to determine the long-term stability of genetically-altered roots.

They report maintaining growth of a transgenic hairy root culture for more than 4.5 years. At the outset, they infected a species of periwinkle with a hairy root bacterium carrying a gene encoding a fluorescent protein. Through this process they were able to generate transgenic hairy roots that contain the fluorescent protein. By transferring root tips into fresh liquid every four weeks, the researchers created a root cu
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Contact: Michael Woods
m_woods@acs.org
202-872-4400
American Chemical Society
Source:Eurekalert

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