Tissue Culture & Transformation

We generate transgenic plants in a wide variety of species and cultivars for both model plants and crops, and are active in researching new techniques for the generation of previously un-transformed plants species and cultivars. We maintain germplasm collections and generate research tools such as plant cell suspension cultures.

Group leader

Matthew Smoker

Matthew Smoker


I manage the plant tissue culture and media team. My main focus is the production of genetically modified plants (17 different species) and also some plant pathogens, namely Phytophthora spp. The GMOs that we produce are a fundamental and essential resource for researchers here in The Sainsbury Laboratory. We also maintain a modest germplasm collection of different Solanum spp. and cultivars and are responsible for the maintenance of plant cell suspension cultures.

As both departmental Biological Safety Officer (BSO) and Chairman of the JIC Biological Safety Committee, my other duties include the management of DEFRA/FERA licences for plant health controlled material and the maintenance and review of Genetic Modification Risk Assessments (GMRAs) for work with GMOs. I apply for FERA–issued phytosanitary certificates for the exports of certain plant material(s) and am also authorised by FERA to issue Plant Passports for the movement of Solanaceous plant material within the EU.

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