Pollen magnetofection for genetic modification with magnetic nanoparticles as gene carriers

The ability to generate transgenic plants has revolutionised plant science research.  However, many species and genotypes remain challenging and time-consuming to transform.  Zhao et al. provide a novel and potentially ground-breaking method of transgene delivery.  In the presence of a magnetic field, iron oxide nanoparticles coated with plasmid DNA entered pollen grains through apertures in the pollen wall.  Artificial pollination with ‘magnetofected’ pollen yielded transgenic seed, with the transgene stably integrating into the host genome.  Using this method, the authors generated transgenic cotton plants expressing the insecticidal Bt toxin, as-well-as transgenic pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) and pepper (Cucurbita pepo L.) plants, marking a breakthrough for these recalcitrant species. (Summary by Mike Page) Nature Plants 10.1038/s41477-017-0063-z