Int. J. Dev. Biol. 57: 525 - 533 (2013)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.130208dw
© UPV/EHU Press

From jellyfish to biosensors: the use of fluorescent proteins in plants

Ute Voss1, Antoine Larrieu1,2 and Darren M. Wells*,1

1Centre for Plant Integrative Biology, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, UK and 2Laboratoire de Reproduction et Développement des Plantes, CNRS, INRA, ENS Lyon, UCBL, Université de Lyon, Lyon, France.

ABSTRACT The milestone discovery of green fluorescent protein (GFP) from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria, its optimisation for efficient use in plantae, and subsequent improvements in techniques for fluorescent detection and quantification have changed plant molecular biology research dramatically. Using fluorescent protein tags allows the temporal and spatial monitoring of dynamic expression patterns at tissue, cellular and subcellular scales. Genetically-encoded fluorescence has become the basis for applications such as cell-type specific transcriptomics, monitoring cell fate and identity during development of individual organs or embryos, and visualising protein-protein interactions in vivo. In this article, we will give an overview of currently available fluorescent proteins, their applications in plant research, the techniques used to analyse them and, using the recent development of an auxin sensor as an example, discuss the design principles and prospects for the next generation of fluorescent plant biosensors.


fluorescent protein, transgenic plant, biosensor, DII-VENUS, confocal microscopy

*Corresponding author e-mail: