The transfer of specific Ti (tumor-inducing) plasmid sequences, the T-DNA, from Agrobacterium tumefaciens to a wide range of plants results in the formation of crown gall tumors. These tissues differ from most plant cells in that they can be grown in vitro in the absence of added phytohormones. Here, data are presented that offer an explanation for the auxin-independent phenotype of crown gall tissues. It is shown that crude cell-free extracts prepared from three bacterial species harboring pTiA6 gene 1 could convert L-tryptophan to indole-3-acetamide; control extracts lacking gene 1 could not carry out the reaction. Other reports indicate that the pTiA6 gene 2 product can convert indole-3-acetamide to indole-3-acetic acid, a naturally occurring auxin of plants. It is concluded that the auxin-independent phenotype of crown gall tissue involves the introduction of Ti plasmid sequences encoding a two-step pathway for auxin synthesis.
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