We can now genetically engineer many of the world's major crop plants. Generally, transformation strategies based on the soil bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens are used to generate transgenics, although success in cereal and legume transformation has been achieved by the introduction of DNA by particle bombardment. Plants have now been engineered to be tolerant of herbicides, produce fruit storable for prolonged periods, be resistant to insect predation and fungal pathogens, as well as have changed biochemical characteristics. Plant transformation can itself be used as a means of isolating genes from plants by gene tagging and this may provide a means of isolating plant genes of agronomic value. These advances, coupled with the recent demonstration of the ability of plants to produce novel pharmaceuticals and biodegradable plastics, have the potential to revolutionize agricultural practice, as well as to increase our knowledge of plant growth and development.
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