GUS history? Why GUS and not lacZ?

Mary Elizabeth Davis davisme at
Sat Feb 26 15:01:14 EST 2000

Hello - 
	I am long time Drosophila molecular geneticist without a strong 
grounding in plant molecular biology.  I have a question about the 
development of the transgenic reporter genes in plants.  As I was 
preparing for Monday's seminar in plant genomics I got to wondering why 
the GUS gene was developed for use as a plant reporter gene.  My 
recollection of this during the 80's is that the lacZ vectors were 
available and in use prior to the development of the transgenic 
technologies in plants; thus I do not know why another marker gene needed 
to be developed.  Is there a significant level of endogenous 
beta-galactosidase activity in plants, thereby requiring another gene?  
Is the E coli protein less stable in plants?  I have checked in my 
genetics texts and on the Web, but have not found an answer.  I will 
check out a plant genetics text when I am back at work, but if someone 
has an answer in the meantime, I would love to hear it.

Thanks for reading.
Mary Beth

Mary Beth Davis
Department of Cell and Developmental Biology
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
421 Curie Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19103-6058

email: davisme at
tel.  215-898-0244
fax.  215-898-9871

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