Real-time systems that provide evidence of pathogen contamination in crops can be an important new line of early defense in agricultural centers. Plants possess defense mechanisms to protect against pathogen attack. Inducible plant defense is controlled by signal transduction pathways, inducible promoters and cis-regulatory elements corresponding to key genes involved in defense, and pathogen-specific responses. Identified inducible promoters and cis-acting elements could be utilized in plant sentinels, or ‘phytosensors’, by fusing these to reporter genes to produce plants with altered phenotypes in response to the presence of pathogens. Here, we have employed cis-acting elements from promoter regions of pathogen inducible genes as well as those responsive to the plant defense signal molecules salicylic acid, jasmonic acid, and ethylene. Synthetic promoters were constructed by combining various regulatory elements supplemented with the enhancer elements from the Cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter to increase basal level of the GUS expression. The inducibility of each synthetic promoter was first assessed in transient expression assays using Arabidopsis thaliana protoplasts and then examined for efficacy in stably transgenic Arabidopsis and tobacco plants. Histochemical and fluorometric GUS expression analyses showed that both transgenic Arabidopsis and tobacco plants responded to elicitor and phytohormone treatments with increased GUS expression when compared to untreated plants. Pathogen-inducible phytosensor studies were initiated by analyzing the sensitivity of the synthetic promoters against virus infection. Transgenic tobacco plants infected with Alfalfa mosaic virus showed an increase in GUS expression when compared to mock-inoculated control plants, whereas Tobacco mosaic virus infection caused no changes in GUS expression. Further research, using these transgenic plants against a range of different pathogens with the regulation of detectable reporter gene could provide biological evidence to define the functional differences between pathogens, and provide new technology and applications for transgenic plants as phytosensors.