Previous studies have shown that a chimeric streptomycin phosphotransferase (SPT) gene can function as a dominant marker for plant cell transformation. The SPT marker previously described by Jones and co-workers has a limited value since it conferred a useful level of resistance only to a fraction (10%) of Nicotiana plumbaginifolia transgenic lines. Expression of resistance was species specific: no such resistant transformants were found in N. tabacum. In this paper we describe an improved SPT construct that utilizes a mutant Tn 5 SPT gene. The mutant gene, SPT*, encodes a protein with a two amino acid deletion close to its COOH-terminus. In N. tabacum cell culture the efficiency of transformation with the improved streptomycin resistance marker was comparable to kanamycin resistance. When the chimeric SPT* gene was introduced linked to a kanamycin resistance gene, streptomycin resistance was expressed in most of the transgenic N. tabacum lines.
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