The phosphinothricin (Pt) N-acetyltransferase gene (pat) of Streptomyces viridochromogenes Tü494 is located on a 0.8-kb BglII fragment [Strauch et al., Gene 63 (1988) 65-74]. By sequencing a 1.3-kb BglII-SstII fragment, an open reading frame representing the pat gene was found. It encodes a polypeptide of 183 amino acids with an Mr of 20,621. The base composition of the pat gene is typical for Streptomyces [70.1 mol% (G + C) in total and 93.5 mol% (G + C) in the third position]. Translation of pat is initiated by a GTG codon which was identified by frameshift mutations in Escherichia coli as well as in Streptomyces lividans. Significant homology of the pat gene was found to the bialaphos-resistance gene (bar) of Streptomyces hygroscopicus [Thompson et al., EMBO J. 9 (1987) 2519-2523]. However, variations were detected in the 5'-noncoding region of the two resistance genes which may reflect differences in regulation. Since Pt is a potent herbicide, the pat gene was modified and introduced into Nicotiana tabacum by Agrobacterium-mediated leaf-disc transformation. The GTG start codon of pat was replaced by ATG. Subsequently the modified pat-coding region was fused to the 35S promoter of the cauliflower mosaic virus. Transgenic plants could directly be selected on Pt-containing medium.