Recently, it has become possible to modify the genetic traits of a wide variety of plants using genetic engineering. The conventional breeding of forest trees requires long periods of time to modify specific traits due to their long generation and rotation cycles. Genetic engineering has great potential for overcoming these hurdles by incorporating the desired genes into woody plants. In both hardwoods and conifers, genetic modification by DNA transfer has been reported in many species including poplar, sweetgum, eucalyptus, larch, spruce and pine (review: Ahuja, 1987, 1991; Sederoff et al., 1987; Ahuja et al., 1996). However, such genetic modification has still been difficult to achieve with many important woody plant species using the current transformation methods, because the regeneration frequency of woody plants is very low when compared with that of herbaceous plants. Therefore, we need to improve the transformation methods to facilitate genetic engineering in a wide variety of woody plants.
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