Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus

Because of the long generation time of woody species and the presence of lignified tissues, a main problem in transformation of these species is the rapid generation of tissues amenable to DNA introduction by various methods. This is reflected in the methods described in the patents and applications described below.

Summary

Patent applications on Agrobacterium-mediate transformation of Eucalyptus have been filed mainly by four private companies:

  • Shell International Research Maatschappij has a granted Australian patent related to the production of genetically modifiedEucalyptus by transforming Eucalyptus tissue or cells with Agrobacterium having gene(s) of interest. As part of the invention, phenylurea is used to induce shoot formation from the transformed Eucalyptus cells.  This patent has expired, so the technology described in it is now in the public domain.
  • Oji Paper Co., from Japan, has granted patents in Australia and the United States related to the transformation of adventitious shoots from a mature Eucalyptus tree, using A. tumefaciens; and
  • Genesis Research & Development Corp. and Fletcher Challenge Forests Ltd (both based in NZ), had a granted patent in the United States on a method used to produce material amenable to Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. The method is described for eucalypt and pine trees. However this patent and other patent applications in this patent family have been abandoned.  Genesis filed an unrelated patent application published in 2005.
  • ArborGen, now the assignee for related patent applications by Westvaco, has patent applications pending in the USA and Brazil on methods used for Agrobacterium-mediated transformation.

Notice that the claims in pending applications may vary in scope if granted.

Eucalyptus – Patent granted to Shell Internationale Research Maatschappij B.V.

This page provides specific information on patents that were granted:  Shell, Oji Paper, Genesis/Fletcher (several pending applications recently published will be shown on a new page).  Note that the patents of Shell and Genesis/Fletcher shown below are no longer in force.   This means that the technology described in them is now in the public domain.

Patent Number Title, Independent Claims and Summary of Claims Assignee
AU 706650 B2

  • Earliest priority – 17 February 1995
  • Filed – 16 February 1996
  • Granted – 17 June 1999
  • Patent ceased – 20 September 2001
Title – Genetic modification of plants

Claim 1
A process for producing genetically modified Eucalyptus plant material comprising one or more stably incorporated DNA sequences of interest, which process comprises(a) subjecting Eucalyptus cells or tissue to Agrobacterium mediated transfer of the DNA sequence(s) of interest, inducing shoot formation in transformed cells or tissue, and
(b) selecting transformed material, the induction of shoot formation being carried out in the presence of N-(2-chloro-4-pyridyl)-N’-phenylurea or another phenylurea.

Process for the production of genetically modified Eucalyptus with stable DNA incorporated in its genome by transforming Eucalyptustissue or cells with Agrobacterium having gene(s) of interest. The induction of shoot formation must have been carried out in presence of phenylurea for the process to be covered by this claim.

Shell International Research Maatschappij
WO 1996/25504 A1

  • Earliest priority – 17 February 1995
  • Filed – 16 February 1996
  • OPI – 22 August 1996
Title – Genetic modification of plants

Claims identical to the granted Australian patent AU 706650 B2
Remarks:

  1. National phase entries of WO 1996/25504 in Europe (EP 808372) deemed to be withdrawn on 14 February 2001.
  2. National phase entry of WO 1996/25504 in New Zealand (NZ 303170) was granted on 16 February 1996 and lapsed on 16 September 2003 as reported by IPONZ.
  3. Parent application of WO 1996/25504 in the United Kingdom (GB 2298205 A1) deemed to be withdrawn as reported by INPADOC on 11 June 1997.
  4. Other national phase entries of WO 1996/25504 include Brazil (BR 9607723; application refused as reported by INPADOC on 18 November 2003), Israel (IL 117023), African Intellectual Property Organization (OA 10503), South Africa (ZA 9601200).
AU 772053 B2

  • Earliest priority – 7 May 1999
  • Filed – 2 May 2000
  • Granted – 8 April 2004
  • Expected expiry – 2 May 2020
Title – Process for transformation of mature trees of Eucalyptus plants

Claim 1
A process for production of transgenic Eucalyptus plants from a mature tree of Eucalyptus plant, comprising the steps of:
(1) preparing a shoot tip explant from a mature tree of Eucalyptus plant;
(2) inducing the shoot tip explant to form adventitious shoots;
(3) pre-culturing the adventitious shoots to prepare infection in an infection induction medium;
(4) infecting segments of explant cut out from the pre-cultured adventitious shoots, with Agrobacterium tumefaciens in an infection medium;
(5) rotary-culturing the segments of the explant from the step (4) in a medium for sterilization containing antibiotics so as to sterilize the Agrobacterium tumefaciens attached to the segments of the explant, to form calli and to select transformed calli;
(6) forming shoot primordia from the transformed calli;
(7) regenerating transgenic plants from the transformed shoot primordia.

Granted AU 772053 recites a process to produce transgenic Eucalyptus plants using A. tumefaciens to transform “adventitious shoots” induced to form from “shoot tips” of a “mature” Eucalyptus tree. Note that all the steps above must be used in order for the claim to cover the process;  additional steps may be added and the claim would still cover the process if all the steps above are used.

Oji Paper Co.
US 6563024

  • Earliest priority – 7 May 1999
  • Filed – 5 May 2000
  • Granted – 13 May 2003
  • Expected expiry – 5 May 2020
Title – Process for transformation of mature trees of Eucalyptus plants

Independent claim 1 of granted US 6563024 recites the same process of producing transgenic Eucalyptus plants as that of AU 772053.

EP 1050209 A2

  • Earliest priority – 7 May 1999
  • Filed – 4 May 2000
  • Application pending
Title – Process for transformation of mature trees of Eucalyptus plants

Independent claim 1 of  this patent application recites the same process of producing transgenic Eucalyptus plants as that of AU 772053.  Note that any granted claims may be different in scope.

Remarks Parent application in Japan (JP 2000/316403) is pending.
US 6255559

  • Earliest priority – 15 September 1998
  • Filed – 15 September 1998
  • Granted – 3 July 2001
  • Patent expired – 3 August 2005
Title – Methods for producing genetically modified plants, genetically modified plants, plant materials and plant products produced thereby

Claim 1
A method for producing genetically modified plant material comprising:(1) preparing an in vitro shoot culture of a target plant, the target plant being of the Eucalyptus or Pinus species;
(2) maintaining and growing the shoot culture until it has produced multiple modes and stem segments;
(3) selecting and excising the stem segments from one or more nodes of a shoot;
(4) transforming a stem segment by stably incorporating a genetic contruct comprising a selection marker and a polynucleotide of interest into the stem segment to form a putatively transformed stem segment;
(5) exposing a putatively transformed stem segment to a selection medium comprising a selection agent that permits survival of transformed stem segments and is lethal to stem bud on the that were not successfully transformed;
(6) selectively inducing the formation of an adventitious bud on the putatively transformed stem segment to form a putatively transformed adventitious bud;
(7) selectively regenerating the putatively transformed adventitious bud by excising the putatively transformed adventitious bud and exposing the putatively transformed adventitious bud to a selection medium comprising a selection agent that permits survival of transformed adventitious buds and is lethal to adventitious buds that were not successfully transformed to identify a transformed adventitious bud; and
(8) elongating the transformed adventitious bud to form a transformed shoot.

This patent expired due to non-payment of maintenance fees according to USPTO.

Granted US 6255559 recites a method for transformation of Eucalyptus or Pinus species based on introducing a desired gene into an in vitro shoot culture and using excised stems with multiple nodes grown from that culture as targets for transformation. Transgenic adventitious buds are induced in a medium containing a selection agent and regenerated into plants. The mode of transformation is not limited to that using A. tumefaciens.

Genesis Research & Development Corp.; Fletcher Challenge Forest Ltd
US 2002/016981 A1

  • Earliest priority – 15 September 1998
  • Filed – 20 March 2001
  • Application abandoned – 6 October 2003
Title – Methods for producing genetically modified plants, genetically modified plants, plant materials and plant products produced thereby

Claim 1
A method for producing genetically modified plant material of the Eucalyptus or Pinus species, comprising:(1) culturing nodal stem segments of a target plant selected from the Eucalyptus and Pinus species;
(2) transforming the stem segments with a genetic construct by incubating the nodal stem segments with an Agrobacterium culture transformed with the genetic construct;
(3) promoting regeneration of adventitious shoot buds from the transformed stem segments;
(4) selecting transformed adventitious shoot buds; and
(5) regenerating transformed plant material from the transformed adventitious shoot buds.

Patent application US 2002/016981 has been abandoned due to failure to respond to an office action, according to the USPTO.

Remarks Related PCT application WO 2000/15813 recites a method to produce genetically modified plant material that is not limited to Eucalyptus species, nor via Agrobacterium-mediated transformation.

Note: Patent information on this page was last updated on 17 March 2006.