Injecting highly innovative and enabling technologies
and tools for plant research

AgroJector is a plant biotechnology company striving to inject enabling, precise, biosafe, affordable and environment friendly technologies and research supplies for plant research community.

AgroJector shall significantly contribute to the bio-economy, help tackling the challenges arising from human population growth and climate change and foster technologies increasing productivity and sustainability but reducing environmental pollution.

AgroJector Therapy

Non transgenic means of crop improvement

Plant scientists and agriculture biotechnology companies face dificult tasks to address the needs of human population growth, adaptation to climate change and environment pollutions. They are expected to generate higher yielding crops, increase plant tolerance to cold, drought, pathogens and pests, as well as find ways of reducing the use of environment polluting chemicals in agriculture. Similarly they should support booming alternative industries that make use of plants and plant products in biofuel, bioplastic, building, clothing and medical industries. Finally, the solutions developed should be safe and environment friendly.

AgroJector will develop enabling tools and technologies with an unmatched specificity and biosafety for the introduction of lost plant traits into modern crops as well as non-transgenic means of molecular breeding of crops. The indispensable core products for these technologies are patent-pending biosafe Agrobacterium strains and associated cloning and expressing vectors currently being developed by the company.

Agrobacterium has a

Natural therapy needle

Agrobacterium tumefaciens naturally delivers proteins and DNA to plants. The simple and highly efficient trans-formation procedure working on a broad range of plant species made it the most commonly used tool for plant transformation in research and industry for the last 20 years.

proteins mediate

precise genetic correction

The use of the same modern gene targeting proteins that are under investigation for human gene therapy makes highly specific, minimal changes in plant genomes possible (Fichtner et al., 2014). The resulting difference in sequence is less than between any two individual plants.

AgroSafe Agrobacterium

only delivers proteins

After five years of research, the mechanism for the transfer of genomic DNA could be unraveled and provided the basis for the first biosafe Agrobacterium strains, AgroSafe. Four distinct genomic regions that were found to cause the transfer were deleted in the strains. The patent pending strains are the indispensible basis for various novel tools.

Shortcomings of genetic modification of plants

Genetic modification is the most important tool in understanding how plants grow and function. The method of choice for this purpose is Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Agrobacterium is capable of transfering any desired sequence of interest flanked by sequences called left border (LB) and right border (RB) - altogether called T-DNA - to plants. For this purpose, the T-DNA is cut and funneled by VirD2 through the natural TypeIV secretion system (Type IV SS).

Specifitiy of gene delivery is crucial for this technology. For more than 20 years, scientists thought that Agrobacterium exclusively transfers the sequence of interest to plants. However, it was shown that Agrobacterium also uncontrollably transfers large pieces of genomic DNA (Ulker et al. 2008) which significantly compromises the necessary specificity and biosafety. AgroJector develops the first biosafe Agrobacterium strains AgroSafe by deleting all elements that were found to activate the transfer of genomic DNA.

Current Agrobacterium strains

found to deliver up to >18kb big genomic pieces (Uelker et al. 2008)

Undesired transfer of genomic DNA

4 regions activating genomic DNA transfer

Higher rate of multiple insertion

medium-copy T-DNA plasmid

2-3 antibiotics for selection

vir genes in Ti helper plasmid

Unstable bacterial genome

Transposons are present(IS element IS426)

AgroSafe Agrobacterium strains

biosafe and highly specific modifation of plants

Exclusively transfer of T-DNA

0 regions activating genomic DNA transfer

Lower rate of multiple insertion

low-copy T-DNA plasmid

1-2 antibiotics for selection

vir genes integrated in genome

Stable bacterial genome

IS element IS426 deleted

MLW technology

Improved gene targeting and editing in plants

1, 2, 3-VirD2 relaxase (M, DONOR DNA binder) from Agrobacterium tumefaciens is fused to a TAL type programmable DNA binding protein (W, ACCEPTOR DNA binding protein) with a linker region (L) allowing flexibility of M and -W. VirD2 relaxase can also be fused to Cas9 protein.

4-Any DNA cloned between RB-LB in T-DNA can be transferred and targeted to a specific locus in plant genome (5).

6-In order to increase the efficiency of gene targeting, a DNA cleavage approach at the target site can be undertaken by fusing DNA targeting TAL factors to molecular scissors such as FokI nuclease.

M and W can be TAL, Cas9 or Zink finger type DNA binding proteins.

Single base pair changes
Allele replacements

Target desired genomic DNA regions in plants with unmatched specificity.
Brings your DNA fragment closer than 100°A to your target.
Any DNA cloned between RB-LB in T-DNA can be transferred.
AgroSAFE Agrobacterium strains are necessary.
Biosafe reintroduction of lost genes in natural loci (re-wilderung).

Patent pending
WO 2014/173955 Al



Biosafe, highly specific Agrobacterium strains

Reduced unspecifity of integration

Native origin of the Ti plasmid for T-DNA plasmid leads to reduced copy number of T-DNA. Thereby reducing silencing in plants due to lower number of insertion sites

Prevention of transfer of genomic DNA

Deleted origin of transfer led to the unintended transfer of up to 50kb chromosomal DNA with a frequency of about 10%.

Increased genomic stability

Deleted transposons were shown to interrupt virulent genes, activate antibiotic resistance gene and jump into the T-DNA, being transferred to plants

Reduced number of antibiotics

Integration of the virulent genes of the Ti plasmid into the genome reduces necessary antibiotics by one.




MLW technology

Site specific gene delivery in plants

Protein targeted (TALE, Cas9, Zinc finger)

Target loci with unmatched specificity

single base pair changes
allele replacement

Only desired
gene transfer


Seed select

Antibiotic and chemical free seed selection

High throughput generation of plants

SeedSELECT requires much less space than convential selection of plants. Thereby, the cheap and simple generation of genetically modified plants in a high-throughput fashion is made possible.

Optimisation of plant transformation

Due to the easy and rapid selection of genetically modified plants, transformation protocols using Agrobacterium can be unprecedentedly rapid optimised in order to increase the host range.

No growing
of plants needed

Rapid &



No foreign

Research supplies

In preparation


In preparation

Community products

In preparation

Why us

Six of the eight co-founders of AgroJector are experienced plant scientists driven by their passion for the development of precise and biosafe technologies. Dr. Bekir Ülker (CEO), a former group leader at the University of Bonn and Dr. Franziska Turck (Scientific Advisor), a research group leader at the Max- Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, both have more than 20 years experience in plant molecular biology research.

In 2008, Dr. Ülker and his collaborating researchers were the first to discover the unexpected biosafety risk in publicly available Agrobacterium strains. Five subsequent years of DFG funded pioneering research in Dr. Ülkers former group were necessary to unravel the mechanism of this undesired transfer. Now knowing the bases of the undesired transfer, prototypes obsolete of most of the undesired transfer were developed. This was the prerequisite for the patent pending, first available biosafe Agrobacterium strains AgroSafe.

Our patents and publications

Co-founders and management team

Bekir Ülker Ph.D.

Bekir Ülker Ph.D.


Head of research

Max Schelski B.Sc.

Max Schelski B.Sc.

Public relations

Jan Sven-Sören Heß ETA

Jan Sven-Sören Heß ETA

IT & electronic specialist

Suheyla Tuncer M.Sc.

Suheyla Tuncer M.Sc.


Franziska Turck Ph.D.

Franziska Turck Ph.D.

Scientific advisor & BBS

Nijo Thaliyath B.Sc. Bankkaufmann

Nijo Thaliyath B.Sc. Bankkaufmann

Financial adviser

Hamed Al Ghaithi B.Sc.

Hamed Al Ghaithi B.Sc.

Carl Hommelsheim B.Sc.

Carl Hommelsheim B.Sc.

Scientific assistant

Lydia Fischer BTA

Lydia Fischer BTA

Technical assistant


AgroJector ug

BioCampus Cologne

Nattermannallee 1

Gebäude E04, 5. OG

50829 Köln, Germany

+49 221 26052741 office

+49 221 75934616 fax

+49 176 61821395 mobile