Remote sensing of gene expression in Planta: transgenic plants as monitors of exogenous stress perception in extraterrestrial environments

Life Support Biosph Sci. 2002;8(2):83-91.


Transgenic arabidopsis plants containing the alcohol dehydrogenase (Adh) gene promoter fused to the green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter gene were developed as biological sensors for monitoring physiological responses to unique environments. Plants were monitored in vivo during exposure to hypoxia, high salt, cold, and abcissic acid in experiments designed to characterize the utility and responses of the Adh/GFP biosensors. Plants in the presence of environmental stimuli that induced the Adh promoter responded by expressing GFP, which in turn generated a detectable fluorescent signal. The GFP signal degraded when the inducing stimulus was removed. Digital imaging of the Adh/GFP plants exposed to each of the exogenous stresses demonstrated that the stress-induced gene expression could be followed in real time. The experimental results established the feasibility of using a digital monitoring system for collecting gene expression data in real time from Transgenic Arabidopsis Gene Expression System (TAGES) biosensor plants during space exploration experiments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / physiology
  • Biosensing Techniques*
  • Extraterrestrial Environment*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / genetics*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / physiology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Telemetry


  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase