Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is cultivated in many parts of the world for its fiber, oil, and seed. The development of new hemp cultivars with improved traits could be facilitated through the application of biotechnological strategies. The purpose of this study was to investigate the propagation of hemp in tissue culture and to establish a protocol for Agrobacterium-mediated transformation for foreign gene introduction. Stem and leaf segments from seedlings of four hemp varieties were placed on Murashige and Skoog medium with Gamborg B5 vitamins (MB) supplemented with 5 µM 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 1 µM kinetin, 3% sucrose, and 8 g l−1 agar. Large masses of callus were produced within 4 wk for all cultivars. Suspension cultures were established in MB medium containing 2.5 µM 2,4-D. To promote embryogenesis or organogenesis, explants, callus, and suspension cultures derived from a range of explant sources and seedling ages were exposed to variations in the culture medium and changes to the culture environment. None of the treatments tested were successful in promoting plantlet regeneration. Suspension cells were transformed with Agrobacterium tumefaciens strain EHA101 carrying the binary vector pNOV3635 with a gene encoding phosphomannose isomerase (PMI). Transformed callus was selected on medium containing 1–2% mannose. A chlorophenol red assay was used to confirm that the PMI gene was expressed. Polymerase chain reaction and Southern hybridization detected the presence of the PMI gene. Copy number in different lines ranged from one to four.
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Vol. 39 • No. 6