• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
Mains Paper 3: Science and Technology
Prelims level: Blue roses
Mains level: Not so important