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Marine Biotechnology: Development of In Vitro Methods and Genetic Engineering Technology for Spartina alterniflora to Assess the Ecological Impact of Heavy Metal Contamination in Salt Marsh Ecosystems

PI: Chandra Franklin (Savannah State Univ., Savannah, GA, USA)

Support: Sea Grant College Program (R/AT-7)

Timeframe: 2002 - 2004

Project Overview.  
The smooth cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora is a dominant plant species in the salt marshes, and it plays a significant role in the salt marsh ecosystem. The lack of technology to produce axenic lines and transgenic plants of S. alterniflora has hindered the application of biotechnological and molecular methods to study the role of S. alterniflora in marine environmental health. This research is aimed at developing the much needed technology to address issues related to the health of salt marshes.

The objectives of this project are to:
1. To establish axenic lines of S. alterniflora from surface sterilized seeds,
2. To establish an in vitro system for regenerating S. alterniflora, and
3. To develop a gene transfer system for regenerating transgenic S. alterniflora.

1. Axenic lines of S. alterniflora have been clonally propagated to preserve the genetic identity of each line and maintained in plant culture vessels for future studies to characterize Spartina-microbe interactions in the salt marsh ecosystem.
2. Gene delivery to S. alterniflora tissues and transient expression of the transgene have been achieved.
3. Regeneration has been achieved from the transformable tissues (meristematic tissues of the shoot system and young calli). Efforts are now in progress to integrate this tissue culture method with the gene transfer method to regenerate transgenic S. alterniflora plants.

Grando, M.F., Franklin, C.I., and Shatters, R.G. (2002) Optimizing embryogenic callus production and plant regeneration from 'Tifton 9' bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flügge) seed explants for genetic manipulation. Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture 71(3), 213-222.

Franklin, C.I., Palmer, T.D., Harkins, A.G., Palefsky, W.H., and Frischer, M.E. Axenic Lines of Spartina alterniflora from Surface-sterilized Seeds. Marine Biotechnology (In preparation).

Palefsky, W.H., Palmer, T.D., and Franklin, C.I. Optimization of parameters for gene transfer via particle bombardment-mediated DNA delivery to
Spartina alterniflora tissues. Wetlands (In preparation).

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This page was updated October 13, 2006