Bisexual sterility conferred by the differential expression of barnase and barstar: a simple and efficient method of transgene containment

Plant Cell Rep. 2006 Dec;25(12):1347-54. doi: 10.1007/s00299-006-0206-6. Epub 2006 Jul 21.


To establish a simple and an efficient system to minimize the environmental risk of genetically modified plants, we tested the applicability of the barnase/barstar system in conferring bisexual sterility; that is, in preventing plants setting seeds by self-fertilization and out-crossing. Transgenic tobacco plants were generated to express barnase, a cell death inducing ribonuclease, under the control of the gamete-specific AtDMC1 promoter, and barstar, a specific inhibitor of barnase, under the control of the ACT2 promoter, which is constitutively active in almost all tissues except gametes. In contrast to control plants harboring the barstar expression unit only, which set seeds normally with self-pollination, all transformants harboring both barnase and barstar were bisexually sterile. They produced aberrant anthers containing no detectable pollen and failed to set seeds even after pollination with wild-type tobacco pollen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Cell Survival
  • Containment of Biohazards / methods*
  • Flowers / cytology
  • Gene Expression*
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Infertility / physiology*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Ribonucleases / genetics*
  • Seeds / metabolism
  • Tobacco / genetics
  • Transformation, Genetic
  • Transgenes*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • barstar protein, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens
  • Ribonucleases
  • Bacillus amyloliquefaciens ribonuclease