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Monday, May 2, 2011

Blue Rose

Florigene, a company based in Australia is interested in expressing proteins in flowers, not to make the protein, but to engineer in a pathway for flower pigments. For centuries, a blue rose has been the subject of fiction. It was mentioned in the Arabian Nights. There is no such thing as a blue rose however, because the key enzyme in the pathway to blue or purplish pigments is lacking in the rose family. This enzyme is a flavonoid 3'5' hydroxylase. This enzyme acts on anthocyanins that are already hydroxylated at the 3' and 4' positions to add a third hydroxyl at the 5' position of the anthocyanin B ring.This pigment is bluish or purplish in color and its specific absorption properties can be modified by pH, metal ions and copigments.

Florigene has developed methods to transform genes into carnations,chrysanthemums and roses.  They have cloned the genes for flavonoid 3'5' hydroxylase from petunia flower petals and expressed these genes in carnations.  This has led to purplish colored carnations.  They have not got all the additional factors worked out yet to get a true blue color expressed, but they are working on it.In addition, they are transforming the genes into chrysanthemums and roses.  The estimated world wide market for a blue rose is in the 3-5 billion dollar a year range, so it is worth the initial trouble to engineer this pathway into roses.  


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