The blue rose: a biotechnology achievement

The rose is one of the most popular flower around the world. It is often associated with many petals. But this appearance is typical of hybrid roses. The wild and “original” only has five petals (as Rosa canina).

With an uncertain origin, although there are fossil remains dated to 35 Ma. The first botanical description is attributed to the Greek philosopher Theophrastus. At the end of s. XVIII, was introduced in the West the Eastern species Rosa chinensis. The resulting hybrid lines (the first in 1867, “La France”) gave rise to modern roses s. XIX.

It’s difficult to get blue roses, because this color is not resolved in their genes. In addition, the blue pigment (an anthocyanidin called delphinidin) is uncommon in the flowers. It is also a genre with a high heterozygosity and presents different ploidy levels (several complete sets of chromosomes).

The most classical biotechnological method was simple. Crosslinks was buds or grafts to produce hybrids. Then you select the heterozygotes that can reproduce vegetatively. More advanced methods seek to isolate the gene responsible for another plant with blue flowers (Viola sp).

In Spain, IFAPA has generated one of six available genetic maps of the species-specific markers by RAPD, SSR and other morphological. In 1990, the Australian company Florigene Pty Ltd, in collaboration with the Japanese company Suntory isolated the gene encoding the delphinidin. They called it “Blue Gene”. Finally in November 2009 was presented and marketed the transgenic blue rose with the name “Blue Rose Suntory Applause” during the “International Flower Exhibition in Tokyo.

Illustration by Hermelo Artbluerose

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