The ethanol switch: a tool for tissue-specific gene induction during plant development

Plant J. 2003 Dec;36(6):918-30. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-313x.2003.01922.x.


Controlled gene expression in time and space is a powerful tool for the analysis of gene function during plant development. Here, we report ethanol inducible gene expression in defined sub-domains of the shoot apical and floral meristems. For this, expression of an ethanol-regulated transcription factor, ALCR, is restricted to precise domains using specific promoters. Gene expression activation is followed using reporters under the control of the alcA promoter, which responds to ALCR only in the presence of the ethanol. We demonstrate that precise control of spatially limited gene expression can be achieved. The kinetics of reporter gene activation and inactivation following a pulse of ethanol induction shows that the system is dynamic and suitable for precise temporal control of expression. The system is both flexible and robust, permitting simultaneous expression of two genes in a given domain or, conversely, the expression of a gene in two separate domains. We also show that this strategy can be applied to mis-express genes with developmental roles, by manipulating expression of the SHOOT MERISTEMLESS (STM) and CYCLIN D3;1 (CYCD3;1) genes during plant development.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / drug effects
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Plant / genetics
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Flowers / drug effects
  • Flowers / genetics
  • Flowers / growth & development
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental* / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant* / drug effects
  • Genetic Techniques
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Transformation, Genetic


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Plant
  • Ethanol