Routine utilization of green fluorescent protein as a visual selectable marker for cereal transformation

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SummaryDevelopment of new selectable markers is needed to increase the efficiency and flexibility of plant transformation, and to overcome drawbacks sometimes associated with use of existing markers. A useful alternative to chemical-based selection systems would be a system using visual screening to obtain transgenic lines. Investigations were carried out to determine if the green fluorescent protein (gfp) gene could be utilized alone as a visual screenable marker to produce stably transformed, fertile oat plants. Twelve experiments were conducted in which gfp-based selection was utilized to obtain routinely stable transgenic lines in oat. A synthetic gfp gene under the control of the maize ubiquitin promoter was delivered into embryogenic oat callus via microprojectile bombardment. Cell clusters (1-3 mm) expressing gfp were visually identified using epifluorescence microscopy and physically isolated approximately 3 wk post-bombardment. Fertile, gfp-expressing T0 plants were regenerated from 78% of the glowing cell sectors placed on regeneration medium. T0 plants from 55% of the events produced gfp-expressing progeny in a 3:1 Mendelian ratio. Southern blot and PCR analysis confirmed transgene integration and transmission to progeny. Expression of gfp did not reduce plant growth or fertility. Transgene copy number and integration patterns were similar to those in transgenic plants derived from chemical-based selection systems. The mean transformation frequency, based on fertile events obtained per bombarded plate, was 1.8%. Over 180 independent transgenic oat lines were produced, to date, using only visual screening for expression of gfp, demonstrating efficiency and repeatability of the selection system.

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