A novel approach to plastid transformation utilizes the phiC31 phage integrase

Kerry A. Lutz, Sylvie Corneille, Arun K. Azhagiri, Zora Svab, Pal Maliga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Thus far plastid transformation in higher plants has been based on incorporation of foreign DNA in the plastid genome by the plastid's homologous recombination machinery. We report here an alternative approach that relies on integration of foreign DNA by the phiC31 phage site-specific integrase (INT) mediating recombination between bacterial and phage attachment sites (attB and attP, respectively). Plastid transformation by the new approach depends on the availability of a recipient line in which an attB site has been incorporated in the plastid genome by homologous recombination. Plastid transformation involves insertion of an attP vector into the attB site by INT and selection of transplastomic clones by selection for antibiotic resistance carried in the attP plastid vector. INT function was provided by either expression from a nuclear gene, which encoded a plastid-targeted INT, or expressing INT transiently from a non-integrating plasmid in plastids. Transformation was successful with both approaches using attP vectors with kanamycin resistance or spectinomycin resistance as the selective marker. Transformation efficiency in some of the stable nuclear INT lines was as high as 17 independently transformed lines per bombarded sample. As this system does not rely on the plastid's homologous recombination machinery, we expect that INT-based vectors will make plastid transformation a routine in species in which homologous recombination rarely yields transplastomic clones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)906-913
Number of pages8
JournalPlant Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


  • Kanamycin selection
  • Plastid transformation
  • Site-specific recombinase
  • Spectinomycin selection
  • Tobacco
  • phiC31 integrase

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