We demonstrate that fluorescent proteins can be used as visual selection markers for the transformation of Arabidopsis thaliana by the floral dip method. Seed-specific expression of green fluorescent protein (GFP) variants, as well as DsRed, permits the identification of mature transformed seeds in a large background of untransformed seeds by fluorescence microscopy. In planta visualization of transformed seeds in siliques shows that susceptibility to floral dip transformation is limited to a small, defined window in flower development. In the competent stage, the random transformation of up to 25% of the seeds within a single silique may occur. The use of fluorescent proteins with different spectral characteristics allows a rapid identification and genetic analysis of seeds that have received multiple genes-of-interest in co-transformation experiments. The data reveal that co-transformation does not occur at random, since the co-transformed genes are integrated at a single genetic locus in ¿ 70% of the cases. This genetic linkage of the co-transformed genes greatly simplifies metabolic pathway engineering by reverse genetics in Arabidopsis. Additional advantages of using visual selection instead of antibiotic resistance include a rapid identification of the effect of the T-DNA insertion or the transgene on seed development and/or germination. This technology, of tagging and identifying transformed seeds by fluorescence provides a novel high-throughput screening system with many potential applications in plant biotechnology.
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