Blue roses may soon be grown in gardens

• It may soon be possible to breed blue roses in your garden, say scientists who have found a way to express pigment-producing enzymes from bacteria in the petals of a white rose.

• Researchers including those from Chinese Academy of Sciences and Tianjin University in China wanted to develop a simple process that could produce a true-blue rose.

Earlier attempts

• Although blue roses do not exist in nature, florists can produce blue-hued flowers by placing cut roses in dye.

• In a painstaking 20-year effort, biotechnologists had earlier made a “blue rose” through a combination of genetic engineering and selective breeding

• According to a study published in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology, researchers chose two bacterial enzymes that together can convert L-glutamine, a common constituent of rose petals, into the blue pigment indigoidine.

• The team engineered a strain of Agrobacterium tumefaciens that contains the two pigment-producing genes, which originate from a different species of bacteria.

• A tumefaciens is often used in plant biotechnology because the bacteria readily inserts foreign DNA into plant genomes.

• The researchers injected the engineered bacteria into a white rose petal, the bacteria transferred the pigment-producing genes to the rose genome, and a blue colour spread from the injection site.

Spotty colour

• Although the colour is short-lived and spotty, the team states that the rose produced in this study is the world’s first engineered blue rose.

• They say that the next step is to engineer roses that produce the two enzymes themselves, without the need for injections.

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Mains Paper 3: Science and Technology

Prelims level: Blue roses

Mains level: Not so important

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