Plant Biol (Stuttg) 2003; 5(2): 103-115
DOI: 10.1055/s-2003-40722
Review Article

Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Evaluation and Comparison of the GUS, LUC and GFP Reporter System for Gene Expression Studies in Plants

N. C. A. de Ruijter 1 , J. Verhees 2 , W. van Leeuwen 3 , A. R. van der Krol 4
  • 1Lab. of Plant Cell Biology, Wageningen University, Arboretumlaan 4, 6703 BD, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  • 2Current address: Hubrecht Lab., Netherlands Inst. for Developmental Biology, Uppsalalaan 8, 3584 CT Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 3Current address: Dept. of Plant Physiology, Univ. of Amsterdam, Kruislaan 318, 1098 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 4Lab. of Plant Physiology, Wageningen University, Arboretumlaan 4, 6703 BD, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
21 July 2003 (online)


The detailed analysis of the expression pattern of a plant gene can give important clues about its function in plant development, cell differentiation and defence reactions. Gene expression studies have been greatly facilitated by the employment of proteins like β-glucuronidase (GUS), green fluorescent protein (GFP), and firefly luciferase (LUC) as reporters of gene activity. The application of reporter genes in plants, specifically in the field of gene expression studies, has expanded over the years from a mere tool to quantify (trans) gene expression in tissue samples, to real-time imaging of in planta promoter dynamics. To correctly interpret the activity that is given by each reporter, it is important to have a good understanding of the intrinsic properties of the different reporter proteins. Here we discuss those properties of GUS, LUC and GFP that are of interest in gene expression studies.


A. R. van der Krol

Lab. of Plant Physiology
Wageningen University

Arboretumlaan 4

6703 BD Wageningen

The Netherlands

Email: [email protected]

Section Editor: L. A. C. J. Voesenek