The Rise and Rise of Nicotiana benthamiana: A Plant for All Reasons

Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2018 Aug 25;56:405-426. doi: 10.1146/annurev-phyto-080417-050141.


A decade ago, the value of Nicotiana benthamiana as a tool for plant molecular biologists was beginning to be appreciated. Scientists were using it to study plant-microbe and protein-protein interactions, and it was the species of choice with which to activate plasmid-encoded viruses, screen for gene functions with virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS), and transiently express genes by leaf agroinfiltration. However, little information about the species' origin, diversity, genetics, and genomics was available, and biologists were asking the question of whether N. benthamiana is a second fiddle or virtuoso. In this review, we look at the increased knowledge about the species and its applications over the past decade. Although N. benthamiana may still be the sidekick to Arabidopsis, it shines ever more brightly with realized and yet-to-be-exploited potential.

Keywords: Nicotiana benthamiana; VIGS; agroinfiltration; biofactory; cellular localization; polyploid genome; virus-induced gene silencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Genes, Plant
  • Plant Viruses / physiology*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / physiology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / virology
  • Tobacco* / genetics
  • Tobacco* / physiology
  • Tobacco* / virology