• Cassette exchange;
  • Cre/lox;
  • excision, marker-free transgenic plants;
  • FLP/FRT;
  • poplar


Two site-specific recombination systems, Cre/lox and FLP/FRT, were tested for marker gene removal and targeted gene transfer in a model tree system. A hybrid aspen clone (Populus tremula × Populus tremuloides) was co-transformed with plasmids containing either the FLP or the Cre recombinase, both under control of a heat-inducible promoter (HSP, Gmhsp17.5-E from soybean) flanked by the two recognition sites (FRT or lox). Molecular investigations of heat-shock treated Cre or FLP transgenic lines indicate excision of inserts between the two recognition sites. Further, a site-specific recombination at the FRT sites leading to targeted integration of a fragment could be demonstrated for the FLP/FRT system. Transgenic aspen carrying two constructs (each with different genes between the FRT sites) revealed (i) excision of both fragments between the FRT sites, and (ii) targeted integration of the fragment from the second construct exactly at the former position of the fragment in the first construct. These results indicate the usefulness of the two site-specific recombination systems in the tree species Populus. Combining both site-specific recombination systems, a strategy is suggested for targeted transgene transfer and removal of antibiotic marker genes.