Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Research Notes and BioMed Central.

Open Access Short Report

Novel sulI binary vectors enable an inexpensive foliar selection method in Arabidopsis

James G Thomson, Meridith Cook, Mara Guttman, Jamison Smith and Roger Thilmony*

Author Affiliations

USDA-ARS, Western Regional Research Center, Crop Improvement and Utilization Research Unit, 800 Buchanan Street, Albany, CA 94710 USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:44  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-44

Published: 2 March 2011



Sulfonamide resistance is conferred by the sulI gene found on many Enterobacteriaceae R plasmids and Tn21 type transposons. The sulI gene encodes a sulfonamide insensitive dihydropteroate synthase enzyme required for folate biosynthesis. Transformation of tobacco, potato or Arabidopsis using sulI as a selectable marker generates sulfadiazine-resistant plants. Typically sulI-based selection of transgenic plants is performed on tissue culture media under sterile conditions.


A set of novel binary vectors containing a sulI selectable marker expression cassette were constructed and used to generate transgenic Arabidopsis. We demonstrate that the sulI selectable marker can be utilized for direct selection of plants grown in soil with a simple foliar spray application procedure. A highly effective and inexpensive high throughput screening strategy to identify transgenic Arabidopsis without use of tissue culture was developed.


Novel sulI-containing Agrobacterium binary vectors designed to over-express a gene of interest or to characterize a test promoter in transgenic plants have been constructed. These new vector tools combined with the various beneficial attributes of sulfonamide selection and the simple foliar screening strategy provide an advantageous alternative for plant biotechnology researchers. The set of binary vectors is freely available upon request.