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Tumor formation in Vitis species and hybrids, incited by Agro bacterium tumefaciens, was altered by chemical, physical, developmental, and genetic variables. Knowledge of the effect of these variables was used to develop a stringent in vitro assay system to select parents for a study of genetic factors that modulate tumor formation. Tumor formation was reduced by short day preconditioning of assay plants and by inoculation of the morphological apex of isolated stem segments. Pretreatment of plants with auxin or cytokinin altered specificity in various combinations of strains and host genotypes. All Vitis species and hybrids formed tumors in response to strains designated as limited host range, but some displayed a necrotic reaction (cell death at and below site of inoculation) or a null response (same as the response to inoculation with an avirulent strain) to strains designated as wide host range (VC Knauf, CG Panagopoulos, EW Nester [1982] Phytopathology 72: 1545-1549). Screens of F1 progeny, derived from crosses of null, necrotic, and tumor-producing phenotypes, demonstrated that the null and the necrotic phenotypes were modulated by dominant and recessive host genes. The extent of cellular necrosis in the necrotic phenotype was modified by the morphological location of the inoculation site, by the presence of buds on the host stem, and by deletion of the tryptophane monooxygenase locus gene of the Ti-plasmid.