In temperate fruit trees, efficient transformation systems have been developed in several laboratories for scion as for rootstock cultivars. The main research has been carried out in Malus due to the economical importance of this crop worldwide. In Prunus, research is focused more on disease resistance of scion cultivars, for instance in plum. Although some investigations on rootstocks are promising, only a few research groups are concentrating on rootstocks as breeding activities in this field are rare. It is beyond any doubt that genetic engineering will become a powerful tool in breeding, especially in fruit trees. The high degree of heterozygosity, the extensive reproduction cycle with a long juvenile period, and the complex reproductive biology based on self-incompatibility are problems in conventional breeding of tree species. Gene transfer for fruit tree improvement has several advantages to overcome these problems. Recently, Petri and Burgos (2005) reported on advantages and future perspectives in fruit tree transformation. They stated that the future of genetic transformation as a breeding tool requires the development of genotype-independent procedures. Besides, the increase of knowledge in genomics, the identification and isolation of plant genes which naturally occur in fruit trees, will contribute to the application and public acceptance of this tool in breeding.
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