, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 61-72

Localized transient expression of GUS in leaf discs following cocultivation with Agrobacterium

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A chimaeric gene has been constructed that expresses β-D-glucuronidase (GUS) in transformed plant tissues, but not in bacterial cells. This gene has proved extremely useful for monitoring transformation during the period immediately following gene transfer from Agrobacterium tumefaciens. GUS expression was detectable 2 days after inoculation, peaked at 3–4 days and then declined; if selection was imposed expression increased again after 10–14 days. The extent of transient expression after 4 days correlated well with stable integration as measured by kanamycin resistance, hormone independence, and gall formation. Histochemical staining of inoculated leaf discs confirmed the transient peak of GUS expression 3–4 days after inoculation. The most surprising result was that the blue staining was concentrated in localized zones on the circumference of the disc; within these zones, essentially all the cells appeared to be expressing GUS. We suggest that the frequency of gene transfer from Agrobacterium is extremely high within localized regions of leaf explants, but that the frequency of stable integration is several orders of magnitude lower.