Tropical Plant Biology

, Volume 11, Issue 3–4, pp 154–162 | Cite as

Use of a Mutated Protoporphyrinogen Oxidase Gene as an Effective In Vitro Selectable Marker System that Also Conveys in planta Herbicide Resistance in Sugarcane

  • C. R. van Beek
  • J. J. Fernhout
  • J. Kossmann
  • J. R. Lloyd
  • C. van der VyverEmail author


Genetic engineering can be used to introduce economically important traits in sugarcane cultivars. Part of any transformation process involves the selection of genetically transformed cells. In this study, an efficient sugarcane in vitro selection system was developed using mutated protophorhyrinogen oxidase (PPO) genes as selectable markers. Two PPO genes, that encode proteins targeted either to the mitochondria or plastid, were isolated from tobacco and maize. Site-directed mutagenesis was used to alter the nucleotide sequence of these genes so that the resulting proteins are less sensitive to diphenylether type herbicides. Sugarcane callus was genetically transformed through particle bombardment with constructs allowing expression of either transgene, and putative transgenic calli were selected on fomesafen. It took approximately 4 weeks to select herbicide resistant calli clones on 10 mg/l fomesafen in the presence of light, which increased the selection pressure, and a further 8 weeks to regenerate resistant plantlets. PCR analysis confirmed that all regenerated putative transgenic sugarcane plants contained the transgene. All transgenic plants showed levels of herbicide resistance when planted in soil.


Sugarcane Protoporphyrinogen oxidase Diphenylether herbicides In vitro selection Plant transformation 



This project was funded by the South African Sugar Association (


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Plant Biotechnology, Department of GeneticsUniversity of StellenboschStellenboschSouth Africa

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