Plant Cell Rep. 15(7): 506-11 (Mar 1996)
Inherited chilling tolerance in somatic hybrids of transgenic Hibiscus rosa-sinensis x transgenic Lavatera thuringiaca selected by double-antibiotic resistance.
Vazquez-Thello A, Li Yang J, Hidaka M, Uozumi T.

Improvement of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis for increased frost tolerance has been attempted through somatic hybridization with the frost tolerant Lavatera thuringiaca. Cell suspensions from Hibiscus and Lavatera were transformed with A. tumefaciens harboring plasmids containing selectable genes coding for kanamycin and hygromycin resistance, respectively. We provided evidence that H. rosa-sinensis and L. thuringiaca were transformed by strong selection of transformed calluses in medium containing antibiotics, by GUS activity determination in protein extracts and by molecular confirmation of chromosomal integration and expression of the selectable genes. Protoplasts isolated from a kanamycin-resistant Hibiscus callus and from a hygromycin-resistant Lavatera callus were fused and selected in medium containing both antibiotics. We determined unambiguously that the regenerated double-antibiotic resistant clones obtained are indeed somatic hybrids through analysis of acid phosphatase zymograms and nuclear DNA content. Plant regeneration through somatic embryogenesis was accomplished from both isolated protoplasts and transgenic calluses of L. thuringiaca. However, regeneration from the double-antibiotic resistant fusant calluses was unsuccessful. Analysis of the somatic hybrids at the callus level showed that chilling and freezing tolerance are governed by independent genetic components. The somatic hybrids displayed significant improvement for chilling tolerance at conditions lethal to H. rosa-sinensis, although frost tolerance was not expressed.