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During the efficient genetic transformation of plants with the gene of interest, some selectable marker genes are also used in order to identify the transgenic plant cells or tissues. Usually, antibiotic- or herbicide-selective agents and their corresponding resistance genes are used to introduce economically valuable genes into crop plants. From the biosafety authority and consumer viewpoints, the presence of selectable marker genes in released transgenic crops may be transferred to weeds or pathogenic microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract or soil, making them resistant to treatment with herbicides or antibiotics, respectively. Sexual crossing also raises the problem of transgene expression because redundancy of transgenes in the genome may trigger homology-dependent gene silencing. The future potential of transgenic technologies for crop improvement depends greatly on our abilities to engineer stable expression of multiple transgenic traits in a predictable fashion and to prevent the transfer of undesirable transgenic material to non-transgenic crops and related species. Therefore, it is now essential to develop an efficient marker-free transgenic system. These considerations underline the development of various approaches designed to facilitate timely elimination of transgenes when their function is no longer needed. Due to the limiting number of available selectable marker genes, in future the stacking of transgenes will be increasingly desirable. The production of marker-free transgenic plants is now a critical requisite for their commercial deployment and also for engineering multiple and complex trait. Here we describe the current technologies to eliminate the selectable marker genes (SMG) in order to develop marker-free transgenic plants and also discuss the regulation and biosafety concern of genetically modified (GM) crops.


Narendra Tuteja, Shiv Verma, Ranjan Kumar Sahoo, Sebastian Raveendar, I N Bheema Lingeshwara Reddy. Recent advances in development of marker-free transgenic plants: regulation and biosafety concern. Journal of biosciences. 2012 Mar;37(1):167-97

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PMID: 22357214

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