Plant Transformation

The group conducts research in genetic engineering of various crops, primarily wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). High throughput, efficient and fine-tuned genetic transformation protocols have been developed by our team for these important cereals that are among the most transformation recalcitrant plants.

Our main objectives: 

  • Provide plant genetic transformation services to the ACPFG, University of Adelaide and our collaborators;
  • Develop/adopt improved technologies for plant genetic transformation;
  • Develop technologies/projects for commercial production of genetically enhanced plants.

Crops transformed: bread wheat, durum wheat, einkorn wheat, barley, sorghum, rice, maize, millet, carrot, potato, tomato etc. Our expertise allows us to potentially produce transgenic plants of any species. 

Barley Transformation

The protocol of Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of barley enables transformation efficiencies of up to 80% in model barley cv. Golden Promise. The protocol has also been successfully applied to the elite Australian barley varieties like Sloop, Clipper and Flagship and to the advanced breeding lines WI4330 and WI4259. Transformation frequencies are variable for these genotypes. Transgenic lines are predominantly produced with simple integration patterns and 40-60% typically have low copy inserts. 

Wheat Transformation

Current biolistic procedure uses co-transformation with the selectable marker gene for hygromycin resistance, which provides the option of segregating the marker gene away from the transgene in subsequent generations of the transgenic lines. A number of modifications have been made to the biolistic transformation protocol which have increased the transformation frequency and reduced the copy number of transgene insertions enhancing transgene stability. The improved procedure results in wheat transformation frequencies of up to 32% and produces transgenic lines in which 15% to 30% contain 1-2 copies of the transgene. We have successfully transformed all wheat cultivars and lines tested to date. These include model US cultivars Apogee, Bobwhite and modern Australian cultivars like Drysdale, Gladius, Rees, Westonia as well as durum line v.53380.

Agrobacterium-mediated transformation system for wheat (JT protocol) allows efficient production of transgenics in cultivars Fielder, Westonia, Gladius.


To address public concerns over the use of foreign genes in GM wheat we are developing a transformation system with cis-genic constructs that are constructed entirely of wheat DNA. Wheat Acetohydroxy Acid Synthase (AHAS, als) is being tested as a selection marker for cisgenic wheat production. A herbicide resistant version of the enzyme allows selection of cisgenic lines through tolerance to a wide range of sulfonylurea, imidazolinone, triazolopyrimidine, pyrimidinyl oxybenzoate and sulfonylamino carbonyl triazolinone herbicides.

External Collaborations

Kazakh Research Institute of Agriculture and Crop Science, KazAgroInnovations, Ministry of Agriculture (Almalybak, Kazakhstan)

Team Members


Dr Serik Eliby
Dr Ainur Ismagul (wheat, sorghum)
Dr Nannan Yang
Gulnur Iskakova
Iryna Mazonka
Inna Mazonka
Corinne Callegari
Tania Llanes
John Harris (Awarded a PhD on 5/09/2014 with the Dean's commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence)

For more information contact:

Dr Serik Eliby

Recent Publications 


Site by Arris Pty Ltd