Recent advances in the genetic transformation of trees
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As the commercial production of transgenic annual crops becomes a reality in many parts of the world, many people wonder if the genetic engineering of perennial trees will allow their eventual commercialization. Not long ago, trees were considered to be recalcitrant material for most molecular biology techniques, including genetic transformation. However, transgenes for shortening the juvenile phase or for phytoremediation purposes have now been incorporated, and the alteration of lignin biosynthesis and increased cellulose accumulation in forest trees have also been accomplished. For long-lived tree species, new questions arise regarding the stability of integration and expression of foreign genes. Biosafety considerations, including transgene dispersion through the pollen and advances in strategies to avoid this, are also important.