• Open Access

Effective production of marker-free transgenic strawberry plants using inducible site-specific recombination and a bifunctional selectable marker gene


* Correspondence (fax +31 317 418094; e-mail jan.schaart@wur.nl)


Public concerns about the issue of the environmental safety of genetically modified plants have led to a demand for technologies allowing the production of transgenic plants without selectable (antibiotic resistance) markers. We describe the development of an effective transformation system for generating such marker-free transgenic plants, without the need for repeated transformation or sexual crossing. This system combines an inducible site-specific recombinase for the precise elimination of undesired, introduced DNA sequences with a bifunctional selectable marker gene used for the initial positive selection of transgenic tissue and subsequent negative selection for fully marker-free plants. The described system can be generally applied to existing transformation protocols, and was tested in strawberry using a model vector in which site-specific recombination leads to a functional combination of a cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter and a GUS encoding sequence, thereby enabling the histochemical monitoring of recombination events. Fully marker-free transgenic strawberry plants were obtained following two different selection/regeneration strategies.