Rose, Better Understood

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M. Bendahmane

Three months ago I added “find that gardener” to my to-do list. I have still not checked it off, but remain as intrigued as ever by how roses do what they do. Thanks to Karen Weintraub for this reminder, and the better understanding:

How a Rose Blooms: Its Genome Reveals the Traits for Scent and Color

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M. Bendahmane

The scent of a rose fades over time, and has for hundreds of years.

For centuries, generations of breeding in the quest for longer blooms and petals in shades of nearly every hue have dulled the sweetest smells that once perfumed gardens around the world.

French researchers have now figured out precisely which genes make a rose smell so sweet, and where to tinker in the genome to enhance its distinctive scent.

Although the rose genome has been mapped before, a newly published version is far more complete, indicating which genes tend to travel together — scent and color, for instance — and which genes are responsible for continuous blooming, among other traits.

The study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, also reveals a detailed family tree of the rose, and how it differs from its closest cousin, the strawberry, and its more distant apple and pear relations.

“I think it’s a huge improvement on the current rose sequence,” said Rob Martienssen, a plant biologist and professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island.

“A lot of these genes were known before, but it’s a very nice way of putting them all together and showing their history. And I think it’ll be very important for breeding,” said Dr. Martienssen, who was not involved in the new study.

The new sequence is one of the most complete maps of a plant’s genetics. By identifying genes with great precision, it will be useful for breeding plant species other than the rose, as well, he said…

Read the whole article here.

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